Settlement Reached in Case Involving Child Who Died During 2019 Kayaking Field Trip

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Kayak on the water

The Mid-Pacific Institute recently reached a settlement with the parents of a 5-year-old boy who drowned on a school field trip two years ago. Under the agreement, Alaric Chiu’s family will receive a record $ 7.2 million. The family sued the school for unjustified death back in 2019 and have been working to draw attention to the matter ever since.

Drowning warning sign; Image courtesy of
OpenClipart vectors via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com

Commenting on the settlement, Lucius Chiu, the boy’s father, said:

“Part of the importance of this settlement is that it is the largest publicly disclosed settlement in Hawaiian history for the death of a child, so the public is being told how important it was to raise this case.”

The family lawyer Jim Bickerton said the sizable portion of the settlement will “send a strong message that schools and other educational institutions and businesses must do what is necessary to keep the children safe”.

The school also issued a statement following the settlement announcement:

“We are deeply saddened to lose Alaric Chiu … There is no greater responsibility or priority than the safety of our students and we reaffirm our commitment to take all necessary measures,” said Paul Turnbull, President of Mid-Pacific.

What happened? How did the child drown? Well, according to the lawsuit, Alaric was attending a mid-pac camp for spring break and “was kayaking with a school counselor in Kaaawa when the overloaded ship capsized.” Tragically, the child could not swim, and to make matters worse, the parents were never informed that the children attending the day camp would go into the water. According to lawsuit and witness reports, there were four people in the kayak when it capsized, and none of them were wearing life jackets. According to federal and state law, “everyone under the age of 13 who drives a boat or kayak in the sea must wear a life jacket.”

Since the lawsuit was filed, the Chiu family hired a number of experts who “urged the school to implement a range of security measures,” including the following:

  • Ensure workers are qualified for their positions;
  • Need for necessary and up-to-date training of employees;
  • Develop and enforce appropriate safety policies and procedures for school activities;
  • And require targeted evaluations of employees.

So far, the school has implemented many measures that are similar to those of the family. For example, the school has restructured its senior management, hired a new compliance and safety officer, and implemented new off-campus travel protocols for faculty, staff and volunteers.

Swell:

The 5-year-old family who died on a kayak tour reaches a record settlement

Hawaii School reaches an agreement with the drowned boy’s family