Finally, We Know. Sportspark Drowning Victim’s Family Sues RIOC


Mohammed Shakib Chowdury – remember that – is the Sportspark drowning victim whose name RIOC refused to reveal since the day he died. The state agency managed by Shelton J. Haynes suppressed all information about the incident, even the smallest details in response to FOIL requests. But the hiding is now over. The young man’s family is suing RIOC and five unnamed lifeguards, accusing them of “reckless, grossly negligent and careless conduct.”

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

What happened is described in another lawsuit in which former RIOC public relations manager Amy Smith offered sworn testimony. After watching a video of Chowdury’s drowning, she said:

“…the video footage which showed that the lifeguards were not at their assigned posts; that the victim was in distress for an incredibly long time; that members of the public, and not RIOC lifeguards or staff, were the ones who noticed that the boy had sunk to the bottom of the pool; that once the boy was removed from the pool, again, it was members of the public, rather than RIOC lifeguard staff, that first performed CPR on the victim; and, lastly, that RIOC lifeguards appeared frantic, unorganized, unskilled, and untrained for the moment.”

How RIOC Mistreated the Drowning Victim

Probably because Sportspark fell under the direct responsibility of RIOC CEO Shelton J. Haynes’s close friend Altheria Jackson, the state agency raced to block all information. Jackson, widely considered unqualified, reported directly to Haynes.

And Haynes, for undisclosed reasons, sent orders throughout RIOC that no one was allowed to put anything about the drowning in writing. No emails, no reports, nothing that could be traced back to those responsible.

A press release crafted by Smith was edited down to nonsense by Haynes and the executive team. The resulting document showed no remorse whatsoever for the drowning victim, Chowdury, or his family.

It showed a cruel and crude disregard for Chowdury. Haynes’s inner circle, Smith swore, was more concerned about losing revenue while the pool remained closed.

The lawsuit, filed on January 18th, demands compensation for “extreme pain and suffering” by Chowdury. His parents, who depended on him for “support and maintenance,” also ask for compensation regarding pecuniary loss.

Regardless of how this lawsuit plays out, Roosevelt Islanders can finally say, “Rest in peace, Mohammed Shakib Chowdury.”

Truths RIOC hid for over a year have finally been revealed.

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