The parents of a New Jersey man who died last year after contracting a deadly brain-eating amoeba after surfing at BSR Surf Resort near Waco has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the water park.
Rita and Vincenzo Stabile, the mother and father of 29-year-old Fabrizio Stabile, are seeking more than $1 million from BSR Surf Resort, Parsons Barefoot Ski Ranch and BSR Cable Park in their suit filed last week in Waco’s 414th State District Court.
The lawsuit alleges “BSR’s blue-green dyed waves masked a pathogen soup in which Naegleria fowleri amoeba — ‘the brain-eating amoeba’ — could thrive.”
Stabile, an avid surfer, and a group of friends traveled from New Jersey to surf at the park on Sept. 8.
“While he was surfing and in the water at BSR Surf Park, Naegleria fowleri amoebae from BSR’s toxic water entered into Fabrizio Stabile’s nose and migrated into his brain,” the suit alleges. “Once there, the amoeba fed on brain and other cells, causing horrific injury and pain, and ultimately Fabrizio Stabile’s death on Sept. 21, 2018.”
BSR owner Stuart E. Parsons Jr. said in a statement Wednesday that his heart goes out to the Stabile family, adding that “only God knows where he got the amoeba.”
Parsons said that since Stabile’s death, BSR has installed a $2 million, “state-of-the-art” filtration system approved by Texas Department of State Health Services and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.
“When they saw what we did, their jaws literally dropped,” Parson said of the new system. “… I don’t want a chance of it even happening. I let my 2-year-old twins get in all of our water at BSR and our ski lakes. They play in the water and drink it, it splashes in their face and could get up in their nose. No parent should ever bury their kid, and my heart goes out to their family.”
Michael Hensley, BSR filtration and maintenance director, said 3,000 gallons of water a minute run though the new turbo disc filter system from the 1.9 million gallons in the surf pool, the lazy river attraction and other water sources.
He said the park and the surf pool continue to attract surfers from around the world, including one from Russia who was there Wednesday morning.
According to the lawsuit, a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with officials from the state and local health departments, inspected the water park and took water samples. The results of those inspections, the lawsuit alleges, “are a powerful indictment of BSR.”
The tests found Naegleria fowleri in BSR’s cable park section but not in its lazy river, Royal Flush slide area, Surf Resort or a groundwater-fed reservoir that supplies the attractions, according to an October 2018 CDC report. However, the CDC reported favorable conditions for the amoeba, and the presence of other amoebas that thrive in similar conditions, in other attractions.
“The CDC wrote: ‘The presence of fecal indicator organism (total coliforms, enterococci), viable thermophilic ameba, and high turbidity indicate a treatment failure, and when the water is warm, would create conditions amendable to Naegleria fowleri growth,” the suit states.
After the CDC testing, officials reported the exposure to the amoeba “likely occurred at this facility.”
Stabile’s death could have been prevented by water park officials “had they exercised ordinary care in the operation of their water park,” according to the suit, filed on the family’s behalf by Houston attorneys Steven J. Kherkher, Richard T. Fass and Brian Kent Wunder.
“Fabrizio was the beloved only son of a very tight-knit family,” the suit states. “The evidence will show that the relationship of Fabrizio with his parents was extraordinarily close. Rita and Vincenzo Stabile have suffered severe mental anguish, grief and sorrow as a result of the death of their only son, Fabrizio Stabile, and are likely to continue to suffer for a long time in the future.”