Mom accused of being on phone as son, 3, drowned at Texas water park

Jessica Weaver

An Indiana mom has been accused of “repeatedly ignoring” her 3-year-old son as he drowned at a Texas water park earlier this year while she “spent hours looking at her phone and singing along to music.” Three-year-old Anthony Malave was visiting El Paso’s Camp Cohen Water Park with his 35-year-old mother, Jessica Weaver, on May 13th when tragedy struck.

According to a police complaint affidavit obtained by People, the toddler drowned in the water at approximately 5 p.m. The young boy was found submerged in four feet of water by a lifeguard. He was later taken to a hospital, where he passed away. 

Witnesses claim Weaver was on her phone

The affidavit claims that eyewitnesses present at the time of the tragedy saw Weaver was not paying attention to her son before he drowned. According to one witness, she claimed to the police that she saw “a person matching the description of the defendant” seated outside the pool, “engaged with her phone and seemingly oblivious to her surroundings.”

Another witness recounted in the affidavit that she observed the mother “singing along to a song that was playing” and “lying down, engrossed in her phone” approximately seven minutes prior to the child/victim being rescued from the water. 

A third witness reported that the boy was swimming alone without a life jacket. According to the affidavit, she found it unusual for such a young child to be in the pool without flotation devices and without parental supervision. The affidavit also noted that there were approximately 466 people at the waterpark that day, “leaving numerous life vests available for those in attendance.”

Weaver’s attorney claims lifeguards are at fault

Weaver filed a one-million-dollar negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against the City of El Paso and the park’s entertainment company in June. She claimed that on the of the tragedy, the park was “severely understaffed,” and the lifeguards on duty were “undertrained” and lacked competence. “Conveniently, the video footage – which Defendant City of El Paso was responsible for maintaining – was destroyed,” according to the suit, as per People.

The lawsuit claims that the boy died due to “collective negligent and grossly negligent conduct.” Weaver was arrested in Indiana on August 30, waived extradition, and was then booked into the El Paso County Jail on September 22. She was released on a $100,000 surety bond, as per El Paso Times.

‘It’s political and sad’

Speaking of the incident in a press release, El Paso Police said, “Investigators were able to establish a detailed account of the events leading to the unfortunate outcome. It was determined that the child’s death resulted from neglectful and careless actions and a failure to care for the child properly.”

According to Weaver’s attorney, Ryan MacLeod, her arrest was allegedly connected to her filing of a lawsuit, as reported by People. “Unfortunately, after Ms. Weaver filed a lawsuit against the City of El Paso, the retaliatory tactics against her commenced,” MacLeod said in a statement. “It’s political and sad.  However, we are confident that through taking depositions and obtaining evidence as we have started to do now, the truth will prevail.”