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'Abbey should be with us': Parents hope tainted alcohol will give answers

Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-29 19:00:23-05

Pewaukee native Abbey Connor was on winter break with her family when she suspiciously drowned in a resort pool in Playa del Carmen in 2017.

The 24-page wrongful death complaint calls Abbey's death "entirely unavoidable," alleging that the upscale hotel chain Iberostar knew that the alcohol being served was tainted.

"I wouldn't wish it upon anyone to go through what we've been through," said Ginny McGowan, Abbey's mom. "So, if I can get something changed, to prevent this, alleviate it from happening from anyone else, then it's so well worth it.

Both of McGowan's children, Abbey and Austin, were pulled from the shallow end of the pool at Iberostar Paraiso del Mar, unconscious. 

Austin said he remembers drinking tequila at the swim-up bar then waking up in an ambulance with no idea of what happened with a bad concussion. 

But Abbey never woke up. She was taken off life support after five days at the hospital. 

"Things turned so quickly, so suddenly," said McGowan.

"Abbey should be with us," said Bill Connor, Abbey's dad. "The lawsuit is going to give us the answers we've been wanting. We haven't had a lot of cooperation but this lawsuit will get it for us."

Abbey's family isn't revealing how much they're suing Iberostar for, but they claim that the resort allowed tainted alcohol to be served, didn't properly train staff or provide surveillance or lifeguards and refused to cooperate with the investigation.

The civil complaint also cites raids in Mexico in 2017 that seized tens of thousands of gallons of tainted alcohol that had been circulating at popular resorts in Playa del Carmen and beyond.

"It frightens me so much," said McGowan. "It scares me so much. It angers me."

An Iberostar spokeswoman said the company will not comment on pending litigation, but they have repeatedly denied having tainted alcohol.