Yevaeh Patrick-Moon Didn't Have to Die, Lawsuit Claims

The photo of Yevaeh Patrick-Moon that her mother, Chevon Patrick, uses as her Facebook profile image.
The photo of Yevaeh Patrick-Moon that her mother, Chevon Patrick, uses as her Facebook profile image. Facebook
On Friday, August 24, the friends, family and loved ones of Yevaeh Patrick-Moon will take part in a vigil to mark what would have been her tenth birthday had she not drowned in a pool at Colorado Springs's Hotel Elegante last December.

Five days later, on August 29, Lynthia Washington, the grandmother of two young girls who accompanied Yevaeh to the hotel, is scheduled to make a court appearance related to a charge of child abuse — negligently causing death. In addition, both Washington and Hotel Elegante are named in a lawsuit put forward over the circumstances of Yevaeh's passing.

The amended complaint, filed on behalf of Yevaeh's mother and plaintiff Chevon Patrick, is accessible below, along with Hotel Elegante's recently submitted answer and jury demand brief. The latter document states that "Defendant Hotel Elegante denies all allegations of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint," adding that "Plaintiff's damages, if any, were the direct and proximate result of the acts of Plaintiff, Y.P.M. [Yevaeh], K.W. [the girl who went to the pool with Yevaeh], and/or Defendant Washington, or some other third party or person over whom Defendant had no control or right to control."

These legal developments are important to Patrick. But first and foremost in her mind as the 24th approaches are thoughts of the child taken far too soon.

"I miss Yevaeh so very much," she emphasizes via email. "I've never experienced pain of this magnitude ever before and it's caused so much irreparable damage."

click to enlarge A collage of Yevaeh Patrick-Moon family photos. - FACEBOOK
A collage of Yevaeh Patrick-Moon family photos.
Meredith Quinlivan, Patrick's attorney, also corresponding by email, underscores Patrick's words. "As the details of that night continue to come in," she notes, "the case becomes more and more tragic, as it was such a preventable loss."

I knew Yevaeh, working with her as a classroom volunteer during the year she was a second-grader at Green Valley Ranch Elementary in east Denver before her family moved to Colorado Springs. She was smart, funny and quirky — an old soul in a child's body whom I feel honored to have gotten to know.

While at Green Valley Ranch, Yevaeh took swimming lessons. However, her teacher (and my daughter), Ellie Roberts, recalls that because she was such a beginner, she was restricted to the shallowest part of the pool, where she could safely stand with her head well above the water. Even then, she needed to be carefully watched at all times.

Supervision was in short supply on December 16, 2017, when Yevaeh and Washington's grandchildren headed to Hotel Elegante. According to Washington's arrest warrant, also shared here, she first left the children alone at the hotel to pick up some food at a McDonald's around half a mile away — and after everyone ate, she gave permission to Yevaeh and one of the other kids to go to an indoor pool at the facility without her. She told investigators she had intended to check on them a few minutes later. But before she could, tragedy ensued.

One of the swimming pools at Hotel Elegante. - COURTESY OF WEST BROWN HUNTLEY PC
One of the swimming pools at Hotel Elegante.
Courtesy of West Brown Huntley PC
The lawsuit maintains that "the indoor pool was designed with a drastic slope from the shallow end to the deep end, and the transition from the shallow end to the deep end was signified by blue tiles on the bottom of the pool. However...the indoor pool did not have a rope or other flotation device separating the shallow end from the deep end."

Although the pool was equipped with a lifeguard chair, the only person on duty at the time Yevaeh arrived was a pool attendant who "was incompetent, lacked the training, supervision, experience, knowledge and understanding necessary" to act in that capacity, the suit maintains. The document alleges that the attendant saw the girls arrive unaccompanied at the pool just after 8 p.m. on the 16th but didn't intervene, even though signage clearly indicated that a guardian needed to be present for children under age fourteen.

Minutes later, the suit states, Yevaeh jumped into the deep end of the pool and began struggling — and at 8:05 p.m., she failed to resurface. Her friend managed to track down the pool attendant at approximately 8:14 p.m., but instead of immediately diving into the water to try and rescue Yevaeh or dialing 911, he contacted the hotel manager at the front desk. The two of them managed to pull Yevaeh from the pool a short time later, and a hotel guest who came upon the scene initiated CPR. But by then, it was too late.

Attorney Quinlivan reveals that she has filed a notice of claim with the City of Colorado Springs and also is leaving her options open regarding American Medical Response, the ambulance service that came to the scene. "The City and AMR have both denied that either was negligent in the dispatch of emergency responders or in the delivery of emergency services," she acknowledges. But she stresses that "we may choose to add the City and AMR if during discovery it is found that either or both were negligent."

A video camera at Yevaeh Patrick-Moon's home captured the moment on December 16 when she ran back to her house to get her swimsuit, which she had initially forgotten. - COURTESY OF WEST BROWN HUNTLEY PC
A video camera at Yevaeh Patrick-Moon's home captured the moment on December 16 when she ran back to her house to get her swimsuit, which she had initially forgotten.
Courtesy of West Brown Huntley PC
She's much more definitive in her comments about Hotel Elegante and Washington. "The fact that the pool attendant saw the girls enter the pool unattended and did nothing is egregious," she asserts. "The fact that he ran to the front desk to tell his manager that a child was drowning rather than jump in and rescue her is beyond my understanding. That Ms. Washington left three young girls unattended in a hotel room to go get McDonald’s is still unbelievable. We can only hope that we find some justice for Chevon and her family, but nothing will replace Yevaeh or turn back time."

Patrick also has harsh words for Washington: "This lady has essentially ruined my life. Nothing like this should have ever happened to my baby. Her death would have been preventable if Mrs. Washington was watching her like she should have been. I would have never let her go to a pool alone. That's the most dangerous place for a child to be, and I thought everyone knew that. Her logic at that moment is unfathomable to me."

For the family, Patrick goes on, "All we want is justice and to be able to turn this terrible tragedy into something positive for Yevaeh. That's the only way that I will be able to find peace in coping with her loss. But I'm certain the pain will always remain."

The candlelight vigil and balloon release on Yevaeh's birthday will take place at 5:45 p.m. on August 24 at Fairmount Cemetery, 430 South Quebec Street in Denver. Yevaeh's plot is located in block 116. Click for more details, as well as to read Chevon Patrick v. Lynthia Washington, et al., Lynthia Washington's arrest warrant and defendant Hotel Elegante's answer and jury demand.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts