School District Sued After Teen Drowns in Swim Class While Teacher ‘Looked at Cellphone’
A lawsuit has been launched by the devastated parents of a high school student who drowned during a PE class. Benjamin Curry, 15, was a freshman at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, California, when he drowned in the school’s outdoor pool. The teen slipped below the surface during a swim class, after becoming fatigued in a water treading exercise. No one noticed him slip underwater and he drowned in the 12-foot-deep pool. Now his devastated parents are suing the school district and their son’s teacher for negligence, willful misconduct and wrongful death.
Surveillance footage of the pool area shows the tragic incident, which happened in May. While it has not been released to the media, the video has been reviewed and submitted as evidence supporting the lawsuit. The Curry family’s lawyer says it shows an exhausted Ben slipping below the surface toward the end of the exercise, in which students had to tread water for nearly four minutes. PE teacher Aaron Becker – who also acts as the school’s football coach – was leading the class. The lawsuit claims that Becker was looking at his cellphone when Ben disappeared below the surface. It was almost an hour before anyone realized he was still in the pool and pulled his body out.
Neither PE teacher Becker or any of the other students saw Ben Curry drop underwater. No one realized that he was still in the pool when the class ended, and the teacher reportedly failed to check the pool or take attendance after everyone was out of the water. Ben’s clothes and belongings were still piled at the side of the pool and his body was found by another teacher in the next period.
The lawsuit notes that no lifeguards were at the scene. It states that Becker had minimal water training and his lifeguard certification had expired. He is still teaching and coaching at the school. San Ramon Valley Unified School District has suspended all use of the pools while the incident is investigated, and the safety policies are reviewed. A new rule will be enforced, ensuring that a certified lifeguard is monitoring the pool whenever it is in use.
A school district is responsible for taking all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of students when they are on school premises. In this case, it will be decided whether the death of Ben Curry was a result of unsafe conditions or negligence on school grounds – known as premises liability. The teen’s family is seeking general, special, and punitive damages to an unspecified amount, as well as reimbursement for medical costs and funeral fees. Anyone impacted by a case of premises liability, such as this tragic case, can contact the expert attorneys at Bisnar Chase for help.