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Elisha Bornstein (left) and attorney Timothy Cavanagh speak about the extent of Yosef Bornstein’s injuries. | Rachel Hinton | Sun-Times

Lawsuit: Leaning Tower Y lifeguards didn’t notice submerged swimmer

SHARE Lawsuit: Leaning Tower Y lifeguards didn’t notice submerged swimmer
SHARE Lawsuit: Leaning Tower Y lifeguards didn’t notice submerged swimmer

Swimming 20 laps a day at the Leaning Tower YMCA in Niles was a highlight of retirement for Yosef Bornstein, a 61-year-old resident of Evanston.

That changed on May 28, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month.

In a surveillance video released by Bornstein’s attorneys, the 61-year-old is shown bobbing in the pool before disappearing under water; he was submerged about five minutes after suffering a heart attack and going into cardiac arrest, according to the suit.

Elisha Bornstein, left, and Timothy Cavanagh speak about the extent of Yosef Bornstein’s injuries Thursday, June 22. | Rachel Hinton | Sun-Times

Elisha Bornstein, left, and Timothy Cavanagh speak about the extent of Yosef Bornstein’s injuries Thursday, June 22. | Rachel Hinton | Sun-Times

Bornstein was released from the hospital Wednesday but the extent of his injuries, and whether he has long term brain damage, is still being measured.

In their lawsuit, Bornstein’s family claims the lifeguards — who did not notice Bornstein until another swimmer alerted them — were negligent.

Bornstein’s son, Elisha, said his father was smart and active before the incident. He and his family want to get to the bottom of what happened to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“It’s really hard on us,” Elisha said of his father’s medical condition. “It’s debilitating to some extent because we’re caring for him so much around the clock, always making sure that there’s someone at the hospital because we didn’t know if he was going to wake up.”

In a statement, the YMCA of Metro Chicago said their “hearts go out to the Bornstein family and we wish him a full and swift recovery.”

“We want to assure all members that their health and safety is of primary importance,” the statement continued. “The lifeguards were immediately put on administrative leave and a disciplinary review is underway. Further, we continually review our policies and procedures to reflect YMCA of the USA best practices, including ongoing review of certification, staffing and procedures, as well as lifeguard training from both YMCA of the USA and the American Red Cross.”

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