FLOWER MOUND (CBSDFW.COM) – The drowning death of a 71-year-old woman in an aquatic sensory deprivation tank has prompted lawyers and a Texas Senator to demand action.
Lawyers filed a wrongful death lawsuit against The Float Spot, alleging the company’s negligence led to the drowning death of Gloria Fanning who died April 7.
Fanning spent eight days on life support following her first visit to the spa, according to a news release. Advertised as the “world’s first tranquility studio,” The Float Spot encloses customers in sensory deprivation tanks filled with highly salinated water that increases a person’s buoyancy. The company touts myriad health benefits, while downplaying any potential risks from the enclosed floatation tanks.
“Gloria was promised an experience that was beneficial and completely safe. The company’s own website claims that accidental drowning is not possible, which is patently untrue and contradicts reports of others across the country who have died in a similar fashion,” said the Fanning family’s attorney, Michael Lyons. “This is a rapidly expanding industry that lacks any of the regulation necessary to ensure that customers are kept safe inside these aquatic sensory deprivation tanks. It is too late for Gloria, but this has to change.”
As a first-time customer, Fanning was given a brief orientation, according to the release, then left alone in the tank. According to the lawsuit, she later was discovered in a state of “distress” by an employee who initially called the business owner for guidance rather than calling 911 for assistance. Once paramedics finally arrived, they found Fanning unresponsive. She never regained consciousness.
Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, announced she’s pursuing legislation in response to Fanning’s death. State law requires that health spas register with the Secretary of State, but flotation pods themselves are not currently subject to state regulation.
“This is a tragic situation that should never have happened,” Senator Nelson said. “Clearly stronger oversight is needed, and I am developing legislation to ensure that we are protecting public health and safety.”
The Float Spot has another location in Frisco, it’s one of four flotation tank studios in the metroplex.
The owner did not respond to a CBS 11 News request for an interview.