Mother of son who died from brain-eating amoeba sues BSR Cable Park in Waco

"...the park's 'blue-green dyed waves masked a pathogen soup in which Naegleria fowleri amoeba -- the 'brain-eating amoeba' -- could thrive.'"

One of last year’s greatest tragedies was the death of New Jersey surfer Fabrizio Stabile from brain-eating amoeba after visiting BSR Cable Park in Waco, Texas. The headlines, clearly the sort that grab attention, threw a wrench into the park’s operation as testing was conducted. Afterward, the park was shut down for a new filtration system to be installed.

And even though testing found that Mr. Fabrizio’s exposure “likely occurred” at the pool, the ownership took it as as absolution.

Now, the surfer’s mother is suing the park for $1 million and let us turn to the Houston Chronicle for more.

BSR could have prevented her son’s death “had they exercised ordinary care in the operation of their water park,” alleges the civil suit, filed April 9 in McLennan County District Court.

Park owner Stuart Parsons wrote in an email Tuesday, “Our hearts go out to the family of Fab. Only God knows where he got the ameoba (sic).” Plaintiff’s attorney Brian Wunder declined to comment.

A new water filtration system was installed in the surf park after Stabile’s death, according to a video posted to the attraction’s Facebook page. And the park, which closed for the winter shortly after the incident, is now open to surfers.

The law requires that lagoons be maintained “in a sanitary condition,” but specific enforcement standards are still being finalized by the Department of State Health Services. The standards are expected to be published this summer.

Unbeknownst to Stabile, the suit says, the park’s “blue-green dyed waves masked a pathogen soup in which Naegleria fowleri amoeba — the ‘brain-eating amoeba’ — could thrive. “

Indeed, test results from health officials found his “exposure likely occurred” at the park. The report found conditions “favorable” for its growth.

The organism is commonly found in warm, fresh water but, according to the CDC, not in well-maintained pools.

Prior to installing the new filtration system, Litke said, the water at the surf park wasn’t treated — save for an occasional large dose of chlorine.

Parsons, the owner, wrote in his email that operators “put chemicals in the water to make it safe.” He noted that the amoeba, which rarely infects people, was not found in the surf park water. (It was found at another attraction at BSR.)

BSR invested significantly in the new water systems, Parsons wrote, and his 2-year-old twins play in the water. He said the surf was full daily.

“I don’t want a chance of it even happening,” Parsons wrote.

The lawsuit states the company owed it to its customers “to maintain the water in a safe condition.” It continues: “Defendants breached their duty to keep the water safe.”

The statement from the park’s owner “God only knows where he got the amoeba…” seems as suspect now as it did in the rosy assessment released directly after the health inspectors found exposure “likely occurred” at the park.

Has this whole incident changed your opinion about wave tanks or have you already forgotten?

Mason Ho: “I can’t get by without my BeachGrit!”

The greatest professional surfer alive confirms our worth! (for $120)

Just last week it was revealed here that professional surfers can be purchased as friends, ambassadors, or……. friends and how great is that? How wonderful the breakdown between The Powers and The People™? Finally, finally, finally, the democratization of surf. The absconding from calcified, lame, ugly, pointlessness. The future of fun without idiotic top down control.

Except it wasn’t.

We tried to employ every single professional surfer on the new social media platform Cameo, throwing real theoretical money into Pete Mel, Brett Barely and Sebastian Zietz’s real theoretical accounts yet were rebuffed by every one.

Refused by professional longboarders and professional Europeans alike.

Seb Zietz was first to say “no” apparently too busy with a robust Qualifying Series career to toss an extra-thumb shaka.

And then silence.

I wanted to pen a “Professional surfers are bad whores!” article but Derek Rielly pumped my breaks.

He’s almost always right and he was right here because just a few moments ago the greatest professional surfer alive came though. A professional surfer who realizes he’s living a dream and can laugh and can play while he’s living it.

Why do do we love Mason Ho?

Because he needs his BeachGrit and it only cost us $120 for that confirmation.

God bless Mason Ho.

And screw you Sebastian Zietz! May you World Qualifying Series forevermore.

Kelly Slater on retirement pressure: “That’s what people think about themselves deep down inside!”

And more!

Poor Kelly Slater. I mean, not actually poor Kelly Slater… the 11x World Champion and many times “World’s Greatest Surfer” no doubt has lots of money… but poor as in unfortunate. Oh, not that either, damn it. No one in six-thousand years of human history has ever lived as gilded a life with heaping spoonfuls of good looks, famous girlfriends and ridiculous talent.

No… poor doesn’t belong anywhere near Kelly Slater but it would be a bummer answering retirement questions every day, getting henpecked by bastard surf journalists and Instagram friends.

Oh not me. I think Kelly Slater must keep surfing until he has snags 11x 22nd place finishes in a row. I think he should do it for the everyman. For The People™ but many disagree and think he should hang it up.

Well, Tiger Woods just proved them all wrong. Kelly was asked by Nine News in Australia, ahead of the upcoming Bells competition, if he would draw inspiration from Tiger’s recent Master’s win. Let’s tilt our ear and listen in. Let’s take notes too.

“It’s big and I think I forget it sometimes,” Slater said.

“That’s why the timing was so good, for me to see Tiger do that this week.

“I have people telling me every single day ‘it’s time for you to retire’ … it’s funny, because that’s what people think about themselves deep down inside.”

Slater is coming off a round two elimination on the Gold Coast in the opening round of the World Surf League, so Woods’ example is also timely.

“That guy probably has more pressure on him from more angles than maybe any athlete has had, ever,” Slater said.

“He’s probably also the most hated guy by women of all time, because it (Woods’ marriage breakup) was so public.

“He’s a guy who’s in a rare position in life, that not many people understand, and there’s no blueprint for him.

“There are a lot of guys who are more talented than Tiger nowadays … he just took his experience and he was calm and worked through it and just trusted himself.

“I’m going to draw a lot of inspiration from that this week, for sure.”

Will Kelly Slater wear the aboriginal face paint like Tiger did the green jacket?

No. He won’t. Go 22nd! For us! For The People™!

You two are friends now! You have a common enemy!
You two are friends now! You have a common enemy!

Power move: Create insta-localism at any beach you choose today!

A bulwark against VAL encroachment!

I don’t expect you to listen to The Grit! podcast as I know you are very busy and have many better things to do but I accidentally stumbled on a genius plan in the last one, a bulwark against VAL and SAL encroachment. I have been out on many days when some middle-aged person riding much foam has paddled for a wave directly in front of me. I give the cursory whistle or bark and have been met with some variation of “I was paddling first” more often than I care to remember.

Oh how depressing it is to witness the last vestiges or order in this mad world slip away. How entirely sad.

David Lee Scales, anyhow, shared a letter from a listener on the podcast, a man who had just been burned egregiously and on purpose. Not by a VAL or SAL but by a true surfer. When he went looking for an apology, the offending surfer just said, “I don’t care. Everybody’s getting burned out here so I’m just going.”

A miserable reminder of the state of our breaking system.

“What should he do?” David Lee asked me. “Punch the man? Yell?”

And right then and right there genius struck. “Neither!” I hollered. “He should team up with the brave man and they should form an ‘insta-local’ unit!”

The insta-local!

How it works is this, you find an aggressive surfer put a proper surfer. Someone who can… turn and things and you say to her or him, “We’re taking over this peak. I block for you then you block for me and we’ll take all the waves we want.”

If a VAL is frustrated by the arrangement he should get out of the water and go home.

That’s surfing, baby!


Now insta-localism is a power that should only be used at places the VAL population has ballooned over 50% (Cardiff Reef etc.) but tell me it isn’t the perfect plan. Tell me it won’t help drum surfing straight back to the angry dark ages.

All we need is a hand symbol we can throw in the water to identify partner-less insta-locals and away we go. Can you help? What hand symbol could we employ?

I’m thinking something like this but less onerous.

An immodest proposal: Give professional surfing judges term limits!

Long way to a ham sandwich but maybe food for thought!

Dear WSL Elite,

If I were surfing’s equivalent of a social justice warrior I would certainly demand a recount on the dimpled/hanging chad of the Italo/Kolohe final at Snapper. I would demand that your judges reconvene and rewind the tape and recount every drop of water displaced to right the injustice of scoring because my guy didn’t win. I would call you racist against Californians and hold my breath and start some half-ass hashtag that only covers one side of this issue in an attempt to drum up a narrative. Something like #OhBrother or #NotMySnapperChamp. Seeing how well that has gone for the far right and the far left in politics, I am here to take a kinder and more gentle approach to push for change.

What Snapper highlighted was something we already knew about your judging, it is objective. Objectivity is a strange beast as it cannot be distilled down into quantifiable inputs backed by non-biased data. It can be distilled into a number based on rules and criteria, but “that’s like your opinion, man” [said in my best Tommy Chong voice]. I don’t often have a problem with this. It works in the Olympics. It works in the X-Games. That being said, the World Tour is a completely different beast.

Unlike the Olympics, the World Tour is a string of events and the objectivity in judging has its obvious flaws when a judge is asked to pretend that every wave they are seeing is a single instance of performance. You are asking judges to continually forget performance in previous events and ignore title implications. You are asking judges to do what they can not- to turn off being human, shut down their memory, avoid creating a narrative, and avoid picking a team to root for.

Also, from what I am to understand, the Judges do not have any term limits and there are no conditions on how long they can remain in their role. You have essentially appointed an unelected surfocracy whereby we, as fans, are expected to never question the rulings of any of your panel and take their objectivity at face value. As we have seen throughout the annals of time, any non-elected body with an indefinite or permanent residency in a position of power often undermines the trust of the people. ***Cough Big Banking*** Cough CEOS*** Cough SCOTUS*** Almost every time someone tells you to trust them blindly, they are not worthy of trust and you, WSL, are rapidly approaching that inflection point. Your judging panel presents the same problem. Over time, your judges may be emboldened with power and may feel as if any questioning of their absolute power of determination of the World Title victor as a usurping of their divine gift of wave scoring.

I myself have found myself questioning calls over the years and know others have as well. I have seen online demands for a restructuring of the scoring, but will not push for change as radical as I feel that would be the functional equivalent of surfing’s Green New Deal- well-intentioned but ruinous to most of the things we hold dear. Instead, I would like to propose six-year “term limits” on CT judges (and Supreme Court Justices if anybody in the Judicial Branch of the US Federal government is reading). Moreover, I would like to propose that you create a bigger pool of Judges (you too SCOTUS) that are assigned, at random, to CT and QS events so each event is judged by a panel of divergent viewpoints and opinions.

Another further recommendation we the surfers would like to make is to remove the judges from the beach entirely and send them videos of the scoring waves to a clandestine war-room where they have to score in a vacuum, away from the energy and excitement of a crowd that can sway a decision. To pretend that Judges aren’t human and incapable of being swayed by an uproar of excitement from the beach is not only misguided, but it is also unfair to the judges who are being asked to make a fair and objective scoring evaluation in an environment filled with cheers, jeers, cowbells, and applause.

To your credit, this style of judging worked great for many years. Those around my age will remember getting snippets of contests from ABC World Wide of Sports or getting results weeks later in a magazine. We weren’t with you there. We didn’t have a live feed. We weren’t privy to live last-minute heroics or a swinging insider that could upend a likely heat winners victory. We had no reason to question you. But times have changed, and now, what was once a news feed is now a jetstream of bullshit and negativity that pushes to us a new negative headline every seven minutes. We have fun depression inducers in our pocket with apps where we can hide behind the anonymity of bravado and call each other “cucks” and “morons” without ever having to face the likelihood of getting socked in the mouth. That being said, you gave us these contests to watch live, and now that we have the full picture and can rewatch and dissect- you’re under the microscope and we have opinions about your opinions. We share our opinions on social media. The surfing community is not the shaggy hair stoners in a parking lot at the beach anymore; it is global, it is interconnected and online. As a result of all of the above, we talk and we’re all talking about you.

Any effort you make to increase the subjectivity and decrease the objectivity of your judging would be greatly appreciated, but I know you probably won’t listen. Also, I really understand how ironic it is that I am writing a letter to the WSL to ask them to change something that literally has no bearing on my day-to-day life and is frankly unimportant in the grand scheme of things but hey, I am a surfer who essentially blows off obligations to play in the ocean on a glorified pool toy, so from where I am sitting, this is pretty much par for the course.

What do you have to lose though? If you do it, you get to essentially tell a bunch of grumpy locals to go pound sand for complaining. If you don’t, well, we’re just going to sit here and whine, because as I eluded to before, surfers are pretty much children- especially those of us who watch contests.

Long way to a ham sandwich but maybe food for thought.

Respectfully yours,