Father Sues Florida Private School After Son Dies In Drowning Accident On Graduation Day
Parents trust their children’s schools to keep them safe from foreseeable harms. So when that trust proves to be misplaced and the child suffers serious injuries–or is even killed–as the result of the negligence of school officials, parents will understandably demand justice. And that often means taking legal action against the school.
A recent story from Indian River County, Florida, offers a particularly tragic example. In April 2021, a high school senior died during the last day of classes after drowning at a school-sponsored celebration. The student’s father, acting as next-of-kin and personal representative of his son’s estate, subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the private school in December 2021.
According to the father’s complaint, the school traditionally sponsored an event on graduation day where members of the senior class would “line up and walk from the school to a lake located in the back of school grounds and jump in.” The lawsuit further alleged that although this was a school-sponsored event, the school did not hire any lifeguards, paramedics, or other emergency personnel to ensure the students’ safety during this exercise. Nor was any basic safety equipment, such as a defibrillator or ring buoys, available on the site.
The victim in this case was the last student to jump into the water. Although he was a standout basketball player, he was apparently a “below average swimmer,” according to the lawsuit. And as events played out, the student who had jumped in just before the victim was having trouble and started to drown. As participants and onlookers moved to help that student, they apparently failed to notice the victim was also drowning. In fact, the victim was underwater for several minutes, the lawsuit alleged, before another student noticed he was missing. It took several more minutes before the victim was pulled out of the water. By the time emergency medical personnel were called to the scene, the victim was “unresponsive and not breathing.” He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
According to TCpalm.com, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office concluded the victim’s drowning was “accidental” and declined to pursue any criminal charges. The lawsuit, however, alleges the school’s negligence caused the victim’s wrongful death. More specifically, the complaint states the school owed the victim a “non-delegable duty to use reasonable care to ensure that [he] was properly looked after at all times while on school property as well as at all school events and functions.” The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of the victim’s estate and his surviving family members.
Speak with a Florida Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
No lawsuit or judgment can ever replace the loss of a loved one. But family members can still achieve some small sense of justice in holding the negligent actors responsible in court. If you are faced with such a situation and need to speak with a qualified Delray Beach wrongful death attorney, contact the Leifer Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.