Medical examiner: Woman, boy who died in kayaking excursion drowned

Medical examiner: Woman, boy who died in kayaking excursion drowned
On Thursday, 5-year-old Alaric Chiu and his camp counselor, 63-year-old Maria Davis, drowned after their kayak capsized at Kaaawa Beach.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the investigation continues into Thursday’s tragic kayaking incident in Kaaawa, authorities have released more information on the deaths of a 63-year-old woman and 5-year-old boy.

The Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday determined the cause of death for both Alaric Chiu and Maria Davis as a drowning and classified the manner of death as an accident.

Chiu was a kindergartner at The Prep at St. Andrews Schools who had been attending a spring break program run by Mid-Pacific Institute.

“Words cannot express how heartbroken we are over the loss of Alaric in this tragic incident,” said Dr. Ruth R. Fletcher, the Head of School at St. Andrews. “Our school community is supporting the Chiu family in all the ways they need our love and care during this incredibly difficult time”

Chiu was with his camp counselor, 63-year-old Maria Davis, on a kayak about 150 yards from shore when it capsized.

Two other boys, a 6-year-old and 9-year-old, were on board the kayak, but were uninjured.

The tragedy is reinforcing the importance of ocean safety.

Federal law requires children 13 years and under to wear a life jacket any time they’re onboard a kayak or water vessel. That didn’t appear to be the case in Thursday’s heartbreaking incident.

Fire officials say crews who responded did not find any life vests at the scene or on any of the individuals who were in the water.

Other childcare groups that run water programs say they're shaken by Thursday's event.

"Anything can happen at any time," said Andy Carre, Waterfront Program Director with Kamaaina Kids. "A situation only feels under control until the second it's not, so there's a lot of things we can do to prevent something bad from happening."

Carre says they have reiterated their water safety protocol to their staff.

"All of the kids and the instructors will be wearing life jackets the entire time. All of our waterfront staff that are going out on the water with the kids are lifeguard certified and CPR firstaid certified," said Carre.

According to the school's spring break itinerary, it appears the stop in Kaaawa was unplanned.

Honolulu attorney Rick Fried, who had a similar case a few years ago, says this accident was completely preventable.

“My initial reaction was this isn’t possible,” said Fried. “The law is 13 or less you must wear (a life vest), and that didn’t happen. And why is hard to understand.”

Mid-Pac's extended learning classes have been canceled for the rest of the week, but regular classes resume Tuesday.

Officials with Mid-Pac and St. Andrews say counselors will be available on campus.

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