Tommy Lee yesterday (April 8) recalled in a Santa Monica, Calif., court the horror of finding that a 4-year-old boy had drowned during his son's birthday pool party. The former Motley Crue drummer and
Tommy Lee yesterday (April 8) recalled in a Santa Monica, Calif., court the horror of finding that a 4-year-old boy had drowned during his son's birthday pool party. The former Motley Crue drummer and ex-husband of "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson took the stand in a civil wrongful death lawsuit over the incident at his Malibu villa in June 2001.
Lee testified that he was sitting by the pool talking with his "life coach" and had not seen Daniel Veres drift to the bottom of the swimming pool in about four feet of water. "I was about 10 feet to 12 feet away, sitting by a table right by the shallow end. I heard Janelle [a guest] scream. I saw her pulling Daniel out of the water. I panicked and proceeded to call 911," a subdued Lee told the jury in the beach city of Santa Monica, adjacent to Los Angeles.
The jury heard that Daniel's body was discovered only when Janelle found him under her feet in the pool.
Daniel's parents allege that Lee failed to have the pool supervised and had no one available with lifesaving or first aid skills. Their lawyer accused Lee of recklessness, saying the party for his son Brandon was badly planned and hurriedly organized and had turned into a party for the rocker's pals.
Daniel's mother Ursula Veres testified tearfully that her son did not know how to swim and that she had not known it was to be a pool party. Daniel was taken to Lee's home by his German au pair who later left the Malibu villa to attend a concert elsewhere and asked another nanny to watch the boy.
Lee, 40, wearing a sober gray suit, black shirt, and black tie, shares custody with Anderson of their sons Brandon, now 6, and Dylan, 4. No criminal charges have been filed against him because Daniel's death was officially ruled an accident.
Attorney Thomas Girardi repeatedly pressed Lee to accept responsibility for watching the 15 to 20 kids at the party and keeping them safe. Lee said he considered it his obligation to watch his own two children and that every child had a parent or guardian looking out for them. He had a couple of life vests but no one wanted to use them, he said.
Lee's lawyer Jim Baratta said police would testify that there was no alcohol on Lee's breath and that none of the adults were intoxicated. "This wasn't some kind of crazy Hollywood party where everyone was drinking," he said.
Daniel's parents, James and Ursula Veres, are requesting an undisclosed sum for funeral and hospital expenses and emotional distress.
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