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Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County Commissioner's pool remains a death trap - State turns deaf ear

The Observer's recent coverage of the unfenced pool in Columbia County Commissioner Jody DuPree's yard has brought many comments, calls and communication with the Observer and the State.

The office of newly elected Attorney General, Pam Bondi, advised in a boiler plate response to a local resident that:

 "... these matters remain outside the jurisdiction of the Attorney General's Office.  While you may not feel that your inquiry constitutes legal advice, a meaningful answer to your question would require a legal review of the circumstances, the pertinent local codes and ordinances and state statutes, and thus a legal opinion as to the application and interpretation of these factors.." "Please understand our duties are prescribed by law, and that our inability to intervene is due to a lack of jurisdiction, not of concern. Thank you for contacting Attorney General Bondi's Office."

Gov Scott's office, while initially appearing to take an interest in this issue, has fallen silent.

If the Attorney General and the Governor have any questions regarding the accuracy of the Observer article or photos, they can see clearly the risk by visiting the Columbia County Property Appraiser's web site and looking at the ariel photo and zooming in.

A visit to Google Earth will give them amazing detailed photographic evidence of the street and side yards of Com DuPree's residence and the lack of any fencing to keep the unsuspecting from wandering into the Commissioner's backyard and into his pool.

Nobody is in charge

Should one of the state employees, who are charged with ensuring that the state building code is enforced, and it appears that nobody is, really be curious about whether or not there is an enclosure around the Commissioner's back yard pool, a drive down I-75 would answer a lot of questions, as Com DuPree's back yard backs up to the interstate and is visible to hundreds of thousands of drivers a year, where it is clear for the world to see that Com DuPree was not worried about his privacy and never put up a fence between his backyard and the interstate or around his pool.

Deaf ears

So far, the e mails and calls that have been made to the folks in Tallahassee and the County have fallen on deaf ears. One resident reported to the Observer that she was told by the Asst. County Manager, Lisa Robert's, "The law went into effect 7 or 8 years ago. He didn't need a fence then."

Florida's Governor, AG and the appointed high ranking state officials may find the following articles from around the state inspiring.

These tragic deaths could have been avoided

March 21, 2011 Daytona
4-Year Old Dies in backyard Pool

Officials say Kimberly Hayward was taken to a hospital shortly after 11:30 a.m. Sunday but efforts to revive her were not successful.

South Daytona police spokesman Mark Cheatham says the girl had been under water for five to 10 minutes when rescue personnel arrived. (AP)

Make sure to read the comments here.

March 25, 2011 Daytona
Police: Grandma asks girl to stay away from pool, finds her drowned

A 3-year-old girl drowned in a pool at her grandmother's Daytona Beach home tonight, police said...

Police say Laela asked her grandmother if she could play in the yard. The grandmother said she could, investigators said, asking the child to stay away from the pool

March 31, 2010 – First Coast News
Family: Toddler Found Dead Drowned in Pool

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The family of a 2-year-old, who died Tuesday afternoon after she was transported to the hospital, said the toddler drowned in a pool.

Family of the victim told First Coast News the toddler's name is Milla Barbieri. Peggy Ryals, Barbieri's grandmother, said the toddler drowned in a private pool. Ryals said the pool doesn't have a fence, lip or barrier...

Florida has a residential swimming pool, spa, and hot tub safety act.
• A residential swimming pool barrier must be at least four feet high on the outside.
• It cannot have any gaps or openings that a young child can crawl through.
• It also must be placed around the perimeter of the pool.
• The rules apply to all pools built after 2001... 

July 12, 2010 Jacksonville
Parents charged in connection to kids' drowning

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A north Florida couple are charged in connection to the deaths of their two children who drowned in a neighbor's pool after being left home alone...

Authorities say they learned that neither parent was home when their two children, aged 6 and 3, were found dead in their neighbor's pool June 19. They were pronounced dead at a hospital. 

Barbara Jeffords contributed to this story

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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Links to related articles:

 • County Commissioner DuPree's Pool
A back yard death trap
(March 17, 2011)

Sebring weighs in on Commissioner DuPree's death trap (March 21, 2011)

Columbia County Commissioner's pool remains a death trap - State turns deaf ear (April 1, 2011 )

New York weighs in on Commissioner DuPree's pool (April 4, 2011)