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Lawyer calls for criminal charges in child's drowning

The parents of a 12-year-old Bronx girl presumed drowned last week in the Niagara River have hired a lawyer who is pressing for criminal and civil cases against the operators of an illegal summer camp who were supposed to be supervising her.

    Gus Michael Farinella told The Buffalo News on Tuesday that he wants to hold the camp operators accountable for the death of Magdalena Lubowska, who last Wednesday slipped into the lower river from a rock at the edge of Whirlpool State Park.

   "I want these people arrested. I want to find Magdalena's body, and I want witnesses," said Farinella, a New York City lawyer.

   State Parks police said Timothy Hedges was supervising 23 youngsters alone on a trail in the park when he allowed some of the hikers to wander up to 500 feet off the marked trail. Magdalena fell into the river from a slippery rock, disappearing downstream in a strong current. She has not been seen since.

   Around Christmas, Hedges and his mother, Eva, opened a camp in their home at 722 Fourth St.; the venture mostly has served Polish immigrants from the New York City area. Niagara Falls city officials said they didn't have proper permits to operate such a camp and have criticized supervision standards of children sent to stay with the Hedges.

   Farinella vowed to hold the Hedgeses' "feet to the fire." He said he will pursue a civil case and also said he wants criminal charges filed. At the very least, he said Timothy Hedges should face 23 counts of child endangerment, operating without a proper guide or trespassing -- and possibly criminally negligent homicide.

  -- Nancy A. Fischer

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