The husband of a woman who drowned in a private community’s lake last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Hazle Township development and a boat operator.

Gina DeVitis, 33, died on July 24, 2011, while swimming to shore in Lake Susquehanna from a pontoon boat commanded by Keith Dasher.

The civil suit, which was filed by Joshua DeVitis, of Hazle Township, on Tuesday in Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, accuses Dasher, 50, of Hazle Township, and the development Eagle Rock Resort Inc. of negligence.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $ 250,000 and also names development operator Double Diamond Inc., Texas, as a defendant. Other charges in the complaint are wrongful death, survival action and punitive damages.

Attempts to reach Dasher, Eagle Rock and Double Diamond for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday.

The 22-page lawsuit states the DeVitis couple and friends gathered for a picnic at the lake July 23 and boarded Dasher’s boat around 9 p.m. The number of people on the boat exceeded the boat’s capacity rating, the lawsuit states.

The passengers were taken to the lake’s dock, where they used it for swimming and other activities. The group was drinking.

At one point Gina DeVitis decided to swim to shore.

When her husband, Joshua, found out, he entered the lake to swim with her. Neither was offered a flotation device by Dasher, and Dasher never attempted to stop either from swimming, the lawsuit states.

Instead, the complaint states, Dasher continued to drink and play loud music on his boat.

As Joshua DeVitis swam toward Gina, he became disoriented “in the dark, murky waters of the lake.” Visibility was further hampered by the lack of lighting from Dasher’s boat, the complaint states. DeVitis yelled for his wife, but there was no response. He continued swimming and eventually found her in a semi-unconscious state.

Exhausted, he tried to pull her to shore but was unable to stay afloat.

“He was left with the tormented decision of leaving Gina to go for help or drowning himself,” the complaint states.

Joshua DeVitis yelled to Dasher for help, but his cries went unanswered so he swam to shore and ran to his truck, which was locked.

He ran to his home, got another car and drove to the home of Gina’s father, Thomas Nork. They called 911 and ran to the lake to search for Gina.

The complaint alleges Dasher knew what was going on but instead of helping, drove his boat to his dock so the group could unload. Dasher went home, despite DeVitis and Nork asking him to use his boat and flashlights.

Emergency personnel arrived without watercraft, so they asked to use Eagle Rock security’s boat. Security did not have keys to unlock the boats or to the shed containing personal flotation devices. They used a neighbor’s boat to search for Gina, who was pulled from the lake shortly later and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dasher was cited by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in September 2011 for regulations on boat accidents, regulations for capacity on boats, regulations for equipment required and negligent operation of a watercraft.

He pleaded guilty to a citation for negligent operation of a watercraft, which carries the heftiest fine, $ 200, in January. Dasher also pleaded guilty to violating rules or regulations regarding boat capacity and violating rules or regulations for required equipment, each with a $ 50 fine. He also was required to pay $ 90.50 in court costs. The other citations were withdrawn by the commonwealth.

Attorney Bruce S. Miller represented Dasher during that hearing, and a call placed to him seeking comment was not returned.

The defendants have 20 days to take action on the complaint.

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