Wednesday, December 1, 2010



Dec 1, 2010

Family of drowned expat drops suit

Relatives of German who died in condo spa pool end High Court case against three parties

Mr Arndt Starke was stuck to a hole leading to a suction drain in the spa pool (above) at Goldenhill Park condominium. The plastic grates covering it were broken, contributing to a force equivalent to that exerted by 16 people. -- ST FILE PHOTO

A CHAPTER has closed on the case of a German expatriate who drowned after he was sucked to the bottom of a condominium spa pool exactly four years ago.

The family of finance director Arndt Starke has ended their lawsuit in the High Court against three parties they held responsible for his death.

Last year, they sued the management corporation of the Goldenhill Park condominium in Mei Hwan Drive, its managing agent Knight Frank Estate Management and Aquatech Products & Services, which was hired to maintain the spa pool.

The discontinuation is believed to follow a settlement made on confidential terms in recent months. All three parties could not be reached yesterday.

One of Mr Starke's two brothers told The Straits Times from Germany that the family took the case to court to raise awareness.

Dr Henning Starke, a lawyer, said: 'Emotionally, it wasn't a pretty exercise. But I am extremely happy we did it... we tried to add something to the process of changing things in the future.'

Mr Starke was in the 0.9m-deep condominium spa pool with his fiancee when he drowned on Dec 1, 2006. The 34-year-old fiancee went to restart the system when the spa jets weakened. She returned and saw Mr Starke, who was 2m tall and weighed 88kg, sprawled at the bottom of the pool.

He was stuck to the hole of a suction drain. The plastic grates covering it were broken, contributing to a force equivalent to that exerted by 16 people.

A Coroner's Court hearing found no evidence of criminal negligence. But the Starkes remained unconvinced, and sued the parties in court.

The freak incident raised questions on the safety of spa pools. In May this year, a national standard to make aquatic facilities safer and cleaner for use was launched.

Dr Henning Starke, 45, said the family is not in contact with his brother's fiancee, who was so traumatised she underwent psychiatric treatment in Germany after the death.

It is not easy for the family members either, but they try to focus on fond memories of Mr Starke instead of his tragic end. He is also survived by another brother, Dr Jochen Starke, 40, and his mother, Madam Ursula Starke, 73.

Said Dr Henning Starke: 'We even make jokes about what he would have done or said in a certain circumstance. So he is definitely present. But of course, on a day like the (death) anniversary, he is more absent than present.'


Mr Chang C.L.


Sent from CCL's iPhone4

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