WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — The family of a woman who nearly drowned while kayaking in Warren wants the city held accountable for what they say was a preventable tragedy. The family and attorneys announced the lawsuit against the city and their push to advocate for the woman they love.
Attorneys representing Lisa Zitello’s family describe her as an experienced and responsible kayaker who never would have taken her kayak over this dam near the Summit Street Bridge had there been proper warning signs posted. Now they’re suing the city for negligence.
“My mother is the best mother you can ask for,” said Zitello’s son Dominic.
Standing on the steps outside the Trumbull County Courthouse Zitello’s family spoke out about the kind, caring, and artistic woman they love and the pain and suffering they’ve endured since her near-drowning.
“It has been a very long time, and I miss her so much. I just remember the last few moments before she walked out the door, I said, ‘I love you, mom, be safe,'” said Dominic.
It was on May 3, 2020, that Zitello went kayaking on the Mahoning River and became stuck in the current of the old Water Works Dam. Attorneys representing Zitello’s family claim buoys warning of the dam’s danger were installed in 2017 but washed away and weren’t replaced prior to Zitello’s kayaking trip.
“This tragedy should have never occurred. It would have not taken place if the city of Warren had installed adequate warnings for unsuspecting boaters,” said Attorney Joe Schiavoni.
To this day, Zitello remains in a coma at a long-term care facility.
“The woman who gave me life doesn’t get to experience her own. She deserves so much more than that,” said Zitello’s other son Charles “Mateo” Martin.
“Our goal is to bring Lisa home, to spend the rest of her days surrounded by her family, her dog, her friends, her boys and all her loved ones,” said Zitello’s husband Brent.
“The city of Warren must take responsibility for the disaster it caused. It must be held accountable, and it must do better to protect the community while the dam remains in the river. It is a matter of life and death,” said Attorney Ashlie Case Sletvold.