CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Organizers of an obstacle course in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle say they've changed some safety procedures for this weekend's event, including the oversight of a large water pit involved in a drowning six months ago.
Tough Mudder's Mid-Atlantic event is set for Saturday and Sunday at the Peacemaker National Training Center in Glengary. Organizers are expecting more than 8,000 participants and 3,000 spectators.
Avishek Sengupta, 28, of Ellicott City, Md., died April 21, a day after being pulled from the water pit at the "Walk the Plank" obstacle. A medical examiner ruled that he drowned.
It marked the first fatality for Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Tough Mudder, which debuted in 2010 and will have 53 events worldwide this year.
"We are continuing to use that obstacle and we're confident in the safety protocols we have in place," said Tough Mudder Chief Operating Officer Don Baxter.
An investigation report previously released by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department concluded that there was no indication Sengupta had been struck before or after entering the pit on April 20. Citing witness accounts, the report said members of Sengupta's group became frantic when he didn't emerge, and several minutes elapsed before he was pulled from the pit's cold, deep, murky waters.
Following the death, Baxter said Tough Mudder closely examined safety procedures on the course.
"Walk The Plank" involves climbing up a wooden wall to a platform, then jumping 15 feet into the pit while being monitored by volunteers, lifeguards and divers.
Baxter said additional safety rails have been added to the obstacle and lifeguards will now focus on specific areas of the pit.
"We have a number of lifeguards who were watching the pool as a whole and would survey the entire area of water," he said. "Now we've essentially just focused our responsibilities with individual lifeguards watching individual parts of the pool and watching participants go into the water and then come back out again."
Edward Denn, an attorney for the Andover, Mass., law firm Gilbert and Renton, representing the Sengupta family, have accused Tough Mudder of failing to adhere to safety practices at the spring event and said Thursday the family plans legal action.
"It's extremely disappointing that Tough Mudder has chosen to reuse that obstacle," Denn said, "particularly at that location."