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City of Saskatoon, school board reject negligence allegations in boy’s drowning

WATCH: The City of Saskatoon and Saskatoon Public Schools denied claims laid out in a lawsuit following the death of 5-year-old Ahmedsadiq Elmmi.

The City of Saskatoon and Saskatoon Public Schools reject the claim that either have “a cavalier attitude towards safety” after a 5-year-old boy with autism drowned.

The comment included in a civil suit launched in March is “scandalous, frivolous and/or vexatious,” according to statements of defence from the city and school board filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench.

READ MORE: Parents of drowned boy with autism suing Saskatoon Public Schools, City of Saskatoon

In Sept. 2017, Ahmedsadiq Elmmi was attending his first full day of kindergarten at École Dundonald School when he ran off at recess and drowned in an adjacent city retention pond.

Ahmed was known to be a “runner” with a tendency to move without regard for danger. An educational assistant was assigned to hold his hand at recess but he got away, according to the school board.

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Hussein Elmmi and Fathiya Nour, the boy’s parents, alleged negligence on behalf of both parties, saying the school knew Ahmed needed extra supervision.

The city, the lawsuit contends, allowed the pond to be inadequately secured.

The parents are represented by Regina lawyer Tony Merchant, seeking unspecified damages.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

“It was not reasonably foreseeable that a lone five-year-old child would evade school supervision and enter the pond,” the city’s statement of defence reads.

“In general, the city says that the allegations against the city are sparse, not properly pleaded and are inflammatory and argumentative.”

In a statement issued Friday, city solicitor Patricia Warwick said “the city again expresses its deepest condolences to the family of Ahmedsadiq Elmmi.”

READ MORE: Drowning death of Saskatoon boy with autism preventable: children’s advocate

Following Ahmed’s death, city officials undertook a safety review of storm water retention ponds and city councillors backed a plan to partially fence off the pond.

The school board admits it owed a duty of care to Ahmed, but said staff worked in good faith to create a safety plan for him.

“The tragedy occurred despite the School’s dedicated efforts to plan for Ahmed, and to manage his significant special needs,” according to the defence filed in court.

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Reached via email, a school division official said Saskatoon Public Schools will have no further comment as the matter is before the courts.

In March, Saskatchewan’s children’s advocate found the drowning was preventable.

The Saskatchewan coroner’s office deemed Ahmed’s death an accident, stating there won’t be an inquest into the fatality.