Family of teen who died of brain-eating amoeba settles in court with Whitewater Center

The family of an Ohio college student who died of a rare brain-eating amoeba has reached a settlement with the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, federal court documents show.

Lauren Seitz, 18, died of a brain infection caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri, days after visiting the center on June 8, 2016, with a church group, The Charlotte Observer reported at the the time. Her raft overturned.

The amoeba can infect a person when water goes up the nose and is almost always fatal, the Observer reported. The amoeba is found in all bodies of warm freshwater, but not in salt water.

Seitz’s father, James Seitz of Ohio, said in a lawsuit filed in 2017 that filthy waters in the park’s popular rafting channels made it more likely the amoeba could attack visitors, the Observer previously reported.

The center denied responsibility for the teen’s death and rejected claims in the lawsuit that it showed “conscious disregard for the safety of visitors.” It cited the amoeba’s prevalence in all bodies of warm freshwater in summer.

The park, however closed the water feature for nearly two months, and a federal epidemiologist found that filtration and disinfection systems “were inadequate to properly clean the facility’s turbid waters,” the Observer reported in an article on Feb. 14, 2018.

Mediator Raymond Owens Jr. filed a one-page notice in U.S. District Court in Charlotte on Tuesday that “the case has completely settled” and that the parties will file a signed settlement agreement within a month. Terms were not disclosed in Tuesday’s notice.

A Whitewater Center spokesman told WSOC-TV that center officials will not comment because the case is still in the courts.

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