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New information about a near drowning in hot tub

Published On: Mar 12 2014 05:50:11 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 12 2014 07:52:12 PM CDT
NEWTON, Kan. -

State inspectors say a hotel hot tub drain was not up to federal standards when a 12-year-old girl's hair was caught and kept her under water.

Factfinder 12 Investigator Brian Heap has uncovered more about the case and what's being done to correct a similar problem from happening again.

Through the Kansas Open Records Act we got a copy of a seven-page inspection report from the state agriculture department. It says the hotel hot tub has been closed until management installs a new safety drain. A panicked 911 call explains just how close 12-year-old Brittany Manley was to death.

Before the 911 dispatcher even speaks, you can hear the panic.

911 call: "My sister got stuck in this hot tub at Red Coach. Her hair got stuck in the thing and she's like drowning."

Brittany is alive to share her frightening story with Eyewitness News. She says all she could do was kick for help.

The state inspector's report points out four safety violations, including a gate that's too short and doesn't lock properly and depth numbers that don't meet the standards.  But the most significant violation is the drain. Inspectors wrote: "it doesn't appear to prevent entanglement."

But Factfinder 12 Investigators learned it should. In 2007, Congress passed the Virgnia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. It's named for a little girl who died in an accident similar to Brittany's. The law calls for pools and spas to have dome-like drains that are specifically designed to keep people from getting sucked in.

We asked the state how it checks to make sure hotels have the right drains.  Inspection manager Nicole Hamm says there are no routine inspections at all for any reason.  So the only way a hotel would be checked is if there's a complaint filed or a change of ownership.

The hotel manager agreed to close the hot tub until the drain is replaced and a new inspection is done.  There's also a sign posted saying no children under 16 allowed in the hot tub. But it's unclear if the sign was put there before or after Brittany's accident.

We called the manager of the Best Western Red Coach Inn in Newton.
He wouldn't answer any questions.

But he did give this statement: "The safety of our guests is our number priority.  We are working a closely with the authorities and fully cooperating with the investigation."

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