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Minnesota girl whose swimming pool injury led to legislation dies

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A 6-year-old girl who was partially disemboweled in a swimming pool accident died at a Nebraska hospital, just three months after her story led Congress to toughen its regulation of pool equipment.

Abigail Taylor died Thursday at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha where she had undergone triple organ transplant surgery shortly before Christmas. Her parents were with her, family attorney Bob Bennett said.

Abigail, of Edina, was injured in June when she sat on a wading pool drain at the Minneapolis Golf Club in the suburb of St. Louis Park; its powerful suction ripped out part of her intestinal tract. Her story drew national headlines, and her parents, Scott and Katey Taylor, soon were asking Congress to take steps to make pools safer.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., called the girl "an inspiration for change" who prodded pool-safety legislation that had gone nowhere for years. In December, President Bush signed a law that bans the manufacture, sale or distribution of drain covers that don't meet anti-entrapment safety standards.

"I visited her in the hospital, and she just had this incredible spunk, and was very focused on wanting to get this bill through Washington," said Klobuchar, who helped push the federal legislation, in an interview Friday.

Bennett said Abigail suffered setbacks, including a cancerous condition sometimes triggered by organ transplants.

Minnesota lawmakers are considering new pool safety regulations that go a step farther than the federal law, requiring that public pools be retrofitted with state-of-the-art suction outlets and requiring frequent inspections for loose drain covers.

State Sen. Geoff Michel, an Edina Republican, called the Taylors "a very amazing family" after he learned of Abigail's death.

"They have held up and been held up for such a tough, tough road. I just feel terrible for them," he said.

Michel said he was optimistic that the bill would pass. "It was a pretty compelling case already," he said.

He said Scott Taylor had promised his daughter that he would get the law changed.

"He's made the promise and we want to help him fulfill that," Michel said.

Bennett said the Taylors wouldn't be available to comment Friday. In November, the family brought a lawsuit against the golf club and Sta-Rite Industries, the pool equipment manufacturer owned by Pentair of Golden Valley.

Gretchen Koehn, president of the Minneapolis Golf Club's executive committee, sent a note to club members notifying them of Abigail's death. The club's "hearts and prayers" go out to the Taylor family, she wrote.