GALVESTON, Texas (CN) – A father claims in a federal lawsuit that former pro basketball player Marcus Camby failed to supervise his 9-year-old autistic nephew during a visit last Thanksgiving, which led to the boy drowning in a pond on Camby’s property.
Marcus Kendall McGhee, who is the father of the late Marcus Carter McGhee, sued Camby in Galveston federal court on Thursday.
According to the lawsuit, Marcus was diagnosed with severe autism when he was very young. At age 9, he could only speak a few basic words and had the cognitive abilities of a young toddler.
The boy did not appreciate danger and had what the lawsuit calls “elopement” issues, meaning he had a tendency to wander away from where he was supposed to be.
“Both of these conditions—Marcus’s inability to appreciate danger and his tendency to elope—made it paramount that Marcus be monitored by an adult at all times,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit notes that while Marcus’s mother, Mia Camby, and his father, Marcus Kendall McGhee, were no longer together, Marcus spent a lot of time with his father. The family lived in the Hartford, Connecticut area.
Last year, Mia had decided to visit her brother and former NBA star Marcus Camby at his Houston-area home for Thanksgiving. Camby was the second overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and he played until 2013.
Camby’s property is described in the lawsuit as a “large compound in Brazoria County” with a main house, secondary house, pool and large man-made pond.
Thursday’s lawsuit notes there was no fencing or other barrier separating the homes from the bodies of water.
The complaint alleges that “Camby was aware of Marcus’ cognitive deficiencies, and he knew the risk that Marcus could wander from the main home and possibly drown in one of the bodies of water located on the property if he was not closely monitored.”
On Thanksgiving Day, Marcus’ father says that he was with his family on Long Island in New York when he received a phone call from Mia in Texas. She said that Marcus was missing and that Camby and some other adults were out looking for him.
The father went to Texas the next day and learned that numerous law enforcement agencies and volunteers had joined the search for the boy on Camby’s property.
“Tragically, rescue workers discovered Marcus’s lifeless body in Camby’s unfenced pond on Saturday morning. He had drowned in the pond after wandering from the main home while not being supervised by Camby,” the lawsuit states.
The father seeks damages for wrongful death, premises liability and negligence. He is represented by C. Brannon Robertson of Fernelius Simon in Houston.
Camby, a 6-foot-11 center, played in the NBA for 17 years.
After his nephew’s death last November, Camby released this statement: “My family and I would like to thank the Pearland police department, search and rescue and everyone from the community who assisted in the search for my nephew Marcus. Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare and we are heartbroken.”