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Parents Blame Developer for Son’s Drowning

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A teenager died in the Delaware River trying to rescue a friend who fell in when a developer's wooden plank gave way, parents claim in court.

The parents of the late William Wilkinson, who was 17, sued Churchill Commercial Development and affiliates, in Philadelphia County Court.

William's parents say their son and some friends were sitting on the bulkhead of a property at 7777 State Road in Philadelphia with their legs dangling over its edge, on May 25, 2011.

His friend Jennifer Torres stepped on a wooden plank affixed to the bulkhead and the plank gave way, dumping her into the cold river, the family says. William jumped in after Torres, who "was choking and being swept down current."

"William was able to assist Ms. Torres until another swimmer could come into the water to help get Ms. Torres to safety," the complaint states. "After handing Ms. Torres off, William was swept into the current and underwater where he eventually drowned."

The parents say, "there were no barriers or warning signs preventing the group from entering the State Road property and sitting on the bulkhead" and "there were no warnings regarding the deterioration of the wooden planks affixed to the bulkhead and/or support joists."

They seek damages for negligence and loss of consortium. They are represented by Eric Weitz.

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