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Groton family plans $10M suit in Chatham beach drowning


The Sun and Wire Service

CHATHAM — The family of a Groton man who drowned at Lighthouse Beach in Chatham while saving his daughter from a riptide has notified the town that it intends to sue for $10 million in damages.

James Swartz, a lawyer for the family of 46-year-old Thomas McDonald, tells the Cape Cod Times the town was negligent in maintaining the beach, in its rescue attempt, and for failing to adequately warn swimmers about potential dangers.

McDonald, of Groton, went into the water to rescue his struggling 10-year-old daughter over the Labor Day weekend last year.

Swimmers also drowned in 2005 and 2006 at the popular beach, which has deep channels and dangerous rip currents.

Selectmen Chairman Ron Bergstrom said the town did all it could and will defend itself in court.

The town has since beefed up warnings at the beach.

McDonald dove into the surf after he saw his then 10-year-old daughter struggling. A 17-year-old off-duty Harwich lifeguard would eventually go into the water and save McDonald’s daughter, but McDonald drowned.

Thomas McDonald, that lifeguard, and others who helped save the daughter were recognized in April by the Cape Cod and Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The organization awarded its Swim Rescue Adult Role Model Award to McDonald posthumously.

There was no answer at the McDonald home by press time.

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