park. However, it appeared from the testimony that those technicians who patrolled the beach area had training in lifesaving. It is not clear from the record whether such training was a requirement for employment.
Blue Marsh Lake was very busy on summer weekends. In an effort to control crowds when the parking lot was filled to capacity, technicians on duty would close the gates to the park. This action was not effective in controlling the crowds, since those wishing to use the lake would park outside the gates and walk in. No efforts were made to discourage this practice. Sunday, June 28, 1981 was such a day. Schoenebeck estimated that approximately 1800-2800 persons used the facilities of the Dry Brooks Complex at Blue Marsh Lake on that day.
On June 28, 1981, eight year old Maria Rosa went to Blue Marsh Lake with an older brother, Andres, age 13, two sisters, Elizabeth, age 14 and Madolyn, age 9, and two adult family friends. Specifically, the group went to the Dry Brooks Complex. Maria Rosa was a nonswimmer. Andres and Elizabeth could swim only to a limited degree. The children took with them two innertubes.
During the course of the afternoon, Maria's brother Andres and her sister Elizabeth took the innertubes into the designated swimming area (the area within the orange buoys). Maria was with them. Andres testified that while in that area, he walked to the end of the orange buoy. He got off the innertube and while the water came up to his chin he was able to walk on the sandy bottom of the lake. Andres was, by his own recollection, about five feet, five inches tall at that time.
A short time later, Kathy Grimm, a uniformed park attendant and an employee of defendant United States of America, got the attention of the Rosa children and told them that the rules of Blue Marsh Lake prohibited them from using innertubes within the designated swimming area. That uniformed employee went on to instruct the children that they could move down the beach and use their innertubes in the boat zone (the area outside the white buoys). Maria was present during this interaction with the park attendant.
The children followed the instructions given by the park attendant. They left the water, and returned to the beach for a short time. They then went to the boat zone (the area beyond the white buoys) in keeping with the instructions they had been given, and took their innertubes into the water. The children went out to about the same distance from shore as they had been while in the designated swimming area. Other people were standing in the water near them. While playing with her brother and sister, Maria Rosa attempted to jump from one innertube to another. She slipped from the tube and into the water. Unable to swim, she quickly sank below the water's surface. Elizabeth felt Maria's hand under water and grabbed it. Maria then slipped from her sister's grasp and could not be found again.
At approximately 4:40 p.m., a park technician was alerted that Maria had disappeared under water. The technician radioed the Park Manager who, in turn, notified the local police and ambulance company. Park technicians then assembled a human chain of rescue volunteers and began repeated searches in the area where Maria was reported to have disappeared. At approximately 4:49 p.m., the police arrived. At approximately 4:50 p.m., Maria was found by a volunteer about 15 yards from the shore in water about ten feet deep. The police immediately began to administer CPR as Maria was carried to shore. She was transported by ambulance to Reading Hospital. Maria never regained consciousness and died on July 1, 1981 while undergoing intensive care.
There were two sets of regulations in effect at Blue Marsh Lake in June of 1981, "Beach Regulations" and "Area Regulations." Typically, these regulations were displayed together. They were posted in the bath house (four locations), at the food concession stand (one location), and on a wooden kiosk or information center (beach regulations only). That kiosk, a roofed structure approximately four feet by four feet, was located about midway between the concession stand and the beach, a total distance of about 100-120 feet. There was some testimony that signs were also posted in the parking and picnicking areas. The signs were printed in English only.
The beach regulations in effect in 1981 provided:
1. SWIMMING BEYOND NO-BOAT-ZONE BUOYS IS PROHIBITED. FOR YOUR SAFETY, PLEASE REMAIN IN SHALLOW ORANGE ZONE; DEPTHS INCREASE BEYOND.
2. BUOYS, BALLS, AIR MATS, FLOATS, FRISBEES ARE NOT PERMITTED. U.S. COAST GUARD APPROVED FLOTATION DEVICES ARE ALLOWED.