MIDWAY — The family of a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate is suing a Utah resort over the man's 2010 death in a swimming hole owned by the resort.
The family of Patrick Vandam, 26, originally of Minnesota, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against The Homestead Inc. and The Homestead Crater Inc. in U.S. District Court in connection with the man's death.
The lawsuit states that the Midway-based resort company and its joint venture company are to blame for the man's death because they failed to comply with a Utah code that requires operators of geothermal rules to comply with certain safety practices. These requirements include proving lifeguard supervision and safety and rescue equipment as well as ensuring that there is sufficient visibility.
The lawsuit states there were as many as four separate notices given to the resort to inform them of the regulations after they were implemented.
Vandam was free-diving in The Crater on March 17, 2010. The 65-foot deep geothermal pool is open to the public for swimming, bathing and scuba diving. He had been staying with friends in Utah and visiting The Crater regularly.
According to the lawsuit, employees knew he was diving and had even conversed with him, and never prevented him from doing so. Around 2 p.m. that day, Vandam borrowed a mask from a scuba diving instructor before going to perform another dive. The instructor and members of the class saw Vandam perform the dive and then come up, then sink, roll onto his back and disappear.
Members of the class alerted another instructor, who dove in and found him near the bottom of the water, retrieved him and began resuscitation efforts.
Vandam died about 6 p.m. that day.
The family believes the resort and the company that manages the swimming area for the resort failed to provide proper supervision, lifeguards, safety equipment and ensure proper visibility. They are seeking damages and reimbursement for cost of attorney's fees and other court costs.
Vandam graduated from the Air Force Academy ranked as a captain in 2006 with a degree in chemistry. He had taken the MCAT and was "anticipating a promising future in the medical field."
The man was apparently well-known as a contender in the competitive eating world. According to a posting by the Competitive Eating News, he was diving in The Crater while training for a diving competition in Hawaii, which was to be held in April.
Representatives for Homestead Resort and The Crater could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
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