The general manager of an exclusive Martha’s Vineyard country club has pleaded guilty to the involuntary manslaughter of a three-year-old boy who drowned in their pool last year.

Henry Bowman Backer was not wearing any floaties when he was left alone in the pool by a counselor at the $100,000-a-year membership Boathouse & Field Club in July 2021, the court heard this week. 

When the counselor returned, little Henry had drowned. 

‘We never saw our son’s eyes open again. He was already brain dead,’ said his father Stephen Backer, in a victim statement. ‘We placed our vibrant, sweet, smart, loving boy in the care of The Field Club and they let him die.’ 

Today in Dukes County Superior Court in Barnstable, Massachusetts, Boathouse & Field Club general manager Scott Anderson pleaded guilty to negligence, wanton and reckless conduct, causing the death of Henry, on behalf of the club. 

‘We had one responsibility as an organization on that day and that was to return Henry back to his family. … and we failed on every possible level,’ Anderson told the court, reports The Boston Globe.  

The club was ordered to pay just $100,000 in restitution to the family and was placed on five years probation. The family said that they will be donating the money to a lifeguard training program on Cape Cod.

Henry Bowman Backer was not wearing any floaties when he was left alone in the pool by a counselor at the $100,000-a-year membership Boathouse & Field Club in July 2021, the court heard this week

'We never saw our son's eyes open again. He was already brain dead,' said his father Stephen Backer, in a victim statement. 'We placed our vibrant, sweet, smart, loving boy in the care of The Field Club and they let him die'

‘We never saw our son’s eyes open again. He was already brain dead,’ said his father Stephen Backer, in a victim statement. ‘We placed our vibrant, sweet, smart, loving boy in the care of The Field Club and they let him die’

But the family are still furious at the club for letting their little boy die.

Stephen said: ‘This is not the story of a tragic accident. This is the story of a crime.’  

‘We are making this statement because the guilty party is a corporation and we can’t look a corporation in the eye.’ 

The club charges members $100,000 per year for membership. 

Henry’s mother Ellie said that when she signed her son up for the Kids Club, she told a counselor that her son would need floaties to play in the pool. 

The counselor told her that Henry would need to bring his own. 

On the morning he drowned, Ellie said that she clipped the floaties to her son’s bag.   

Cape & Islands assistant district attorney Elizabeth Sweeney told the court that a counselor at the Kids Club told a state trooper: ‘It was the three-year-old child’s responsibility to remember to wear his floaties.’

Ellie said: ‘When I dropped Henry off at the Field’s Club’s Kids Club that Monday morning. I did not think for a second that I was putting him in danger. Why would I?’

She went on to say that she applied sunblock to her child, pinned his floaties to his backpack and hoped that he would make new friends. 

Henry never had his floaties put on him. He spent the morning playing in the water two other girls and a counselor. But when the girls asked for some swimming goggles, the counselor led them away from the pool, leaving Henry on his own, the court heard. 

When they returned, they found Henry had drowned. 

Today in Dukes County Superior Court in Barnstable, Massachusetts, Boathouse & Field Club general manager Scott Anderson pleaded guilty to negligence, wanton and reckless conduct, causing the death of Henry, on behalf of the club

Today in Dukes County Superior Court in Barnstable, Massachusetts, Boathouse & Field Club general manager Scott Anderson pleaded guilty to negligence, wanton and reckless conduct, causing the death of Henry, on behalf of the club

The club was ordered to pay just $100,000 in restitution to the family and was placed on five years probation. The family said that they will be donating the money to a lifeguard training program on Cape Cod

The club was ordered to pay just $100,000 in restitution to the family and was placed on five years probation. The family said that they will be donating the money to a lifeguard training program on Cape Cod

Ellie said: ‘We are so grateful to the DA and his team and to the state police investigation for uncovering this horrible truth.  

She continued: ‘This was not some tragic accident. It was a crime. Manslaughter. That’s a felony.’

Following the phone call alerting them to the incident, Stephen said that they never heard from the country club again, not even receiving an apology.

Stephen said that despite the anger he feels toward The Field Club, ‘Rage doesn’t honor Henry’s life.’ 

Rather than lose his temper at those responsible for his son’s death, Stephen said that he would like the administration of the country club to put themselves in him and his wife’s place. 

Stephen said he wanted them to think about experiencing a loss of this magnitude due to ‘wanton and reckless criminal actions.’

Ellie and Stephen, who have a daughter Mabel, are still mourning their young son and ended their victim statement saying simply they ‘love him forever.’ 

In a brief statement, the family’s lawyer David Meier said: ‘From day one, the priority for Henry’s parents and family has been about the truth, about transparency, and about accountability.’

The probation facing The Field Club will place limits on the water activities that the club can hold involving children. 

Following the judge’s decision in the case, Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said: ‘The criminal justice system is inadequate to deal with the pain and anguish of the loss of a child, but it can bring a measure of justice. I hope it has done so for Henry.’ 



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