WARNING: This article may contain images that are disturbing to some readers.
Every story has two sides. The following account is based solely upon that of Leland Jacobson of Aqua Care Pool Service. These are the details that Leland shared in his conversation with Jules “The Pool Girl” Johnson when they spoke in February of this year.
“ I hope you have your paperwork in order for maintaining the pooI. I wanted you to hear this from me before you hear from the police or the news station… “.
Some of the scariest words a pool professional could hear over the phone. Can you imagine how your heart would race? How would your hands start sweating as you scrambled for a thought? In fact, that is precisely what was happening to Floridian, Leland Jacobson, of Aqua Care Pool Service. As these chilling words echoed through his cellular, he could only wonder to himself,
“Whoa. Where is this conversation going to go?”
On the phone was Leland’s long time client, Sandy, the Vice President of Hartley Park. Hartley Park is a housing community in Orlando in which Leland services the pool and spa. She proceeded to tell Leland the horrific news about one of her neighbors and shared how the homeowner was in grave condition.
“She told me 35% of his face is gone. He has lost his legs from the knees down. They have amputated both of his hands. He has contracted a flesh-eating bacteria and has 48 hours to live.” Leland recounted solemnly.
The victim’s brother was interviewed and questioned regarding any recent visits to anywhere he may have contracted the virus that was eating him alive. According to the brother, there was only one place he had frequented….the community pool. Sadly, a few days later, the man died.
“Now all of the fingers were suddenly pointing at me.”
Leland immediately went to work to see if the pool…HIS pool could be the culprit in this devastating occurrence. Could this have been his fault? To tell the truth, as he drove to the property the words of his mentor, Rudy Stankowitz, echoed in his head:
“I promise you…if everything is not perfect, you will be in front of a judge and they will be trying to take everything from you.”
Leland is no rookie. He works nights in Central Florida with a cave exploration hat on to get the job done. He takes care of over 31 communities. Alternatively, Jacobson openly brings things to attention that need to be repaired or replaced. In fact, He points out things that are not code compliant. Leland doesn’t give the property owners an option.,
“It must be fixed NOW. “
Knowing he has to be able to do his job, he is adamant that keeping things up to code is “not debatable. You have to fix shit”. Leland learned early on the importance of not only of proper chemical maintenance but adequate documentation. As a matter of fact, he follows a strict protocol of his design that far exceeds the Health Department’s standards, even.
A complete water test on every visit
Leland serviced the pool at Hartley Park 2 times a week. On those two visits, he always performed an in-depth inspection. He looked at sanitizer and alkalinity. Additionally, Jacobson would check the phosphate levels and the flow rate.
“This pool was PRISTINE.” Leland states and calls the pool in question “A postcard waiting to happen.”
A Log of His Own
Also, during his visits, he would fill out his daily logs per Orange County. Not to mention, he had trained Sandy on how to check and log the water in between his visits. Besides, the pool was always compliant. Never once was there a Health Inspection fail. Proper water chemistry is something this pool tech takes very seriously. Especially pools that have a heavy bather load and can affect more lives.
“We are on a totally different level when it comes to commercial pools. We are talking about people’s health.”
Not one line was out of order. Not one reading out of balance. As far as Leland was concerned, this was not his fault. Now what?
“This really rattled me”.
Leland was no stranger to being accused of causing injury due to a pool or spa not being maintained. Just a year before, Leland took on a client where the pool and spa had been shut down by the state for it not being kept up. In fact, the pool and spa weren’t just green…they were black.
A Nasty Green to Clean
The 1st day he got down to business with his small crew to scrub the tiles and the walls, knowing it had to be completely drained. He purged the lines and pulled out the old filter. He figured he would get it fired up and see where he should go next.
While he is working, “a guy shows up to tell him that he has had veins removed from his leg and has lost toes” from …you guessed it…A Flesh-Eating Virus!! He dares to ask Leland if he will state the condition of the pool and spa before he drained it.
He reported the guy to the community office. When the attorney called him trying to accuse him of being the negligent one…guess what? Besides, he had logs and even emails to prove when he had taken it over. “I am a professional. I keep things perfect.” Leland says he “document(s) everything” and is “big on emailing stuff.”
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Leland knew it wasn’t the pool water at Hartley Park community that had cost this man his life. He had the logs to prove it. He thought of another way. In fact, each person with access to the pool was given a key fob with its own, unique, encrypted code. These codes were recorded and could identify who went into the pool and when.
He asked Sandy to check the deceased’s fob. Imagine everyone’s surprise when the gentleman’s key had NEVER been used to enter the pool. What a relief! Armed with his meticulous records and this new information, he was prepared to defend his honor….and his freedom. Luckily it never came to that.
The autopsy (according to Leland) provides the proof that Jacobson needs. The bacteria is not a waterborne strain. Saved by autopsy… A breath of relief, Leland is not at fault. Besides, even if he hadn’t been cleared by medical science, he had a paper trail to cover his behind.
“People think they are going to go dick around with the pool guy and they might run into a Jedi master.”
If this story isn’t an incentive to cross your T’s and dot your, I’s then maybe you are in the wrong business. Our priority is to keep everyone safe. Besides, In the unfortunate instance where someone does fall ill or get injured, it is OUR responsibility to protect ourselves Keeping things up to code and keeping a log of doing so will save countless lives. One of them may even be our own.
We reached out to the Hartley Park housing community in Orlando and have yet to hear back. I have NOT made an effort to contact the family. The name of the deceased is intentionally omitted out of respect for the family. The photos shown are not from this horrible tragedy but are from various medical journals, as noted.
The family will remain forever in our prayers ??
To read more about Necrotizing Fasciitis, see Rare Diseases