Family of 5-year-old killed on Mid-Pacific Institute kayaking trip sues school

Published: Jan. 17, 2020 at 5:46 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The family of a 5-year-old boy who was killed on a Mid-Pacific Institute kayaking excursion last year has sued the school for “reckless and grossly negligent conduct.”

On March 28, kindergartner Alaric Chiu was participating in the school’s spring break day camp when he drowned while kayaking off Kaaawa.

Alaric could not swim and the suit said the kayaking trip was unplanned and unapproved.

Also killed was 63-year-old Maria Davis, a camp counselor.

Fire officials at the time said there were no life vests on the two-person kayak, which was carrying a total of four people when it capsized. Two other students were unharmed.

During a news conference Thursday, the boy’s father ― Lucius Chiu ― said that the suit is aimed at preventing future tragedies.

“We trusted the school with our son, but instead they killed him," he said.

“Things have been very difficult. We really hope no other families have to go through what we went through."

Alaric’s older brother was on shore, watching as his brother drowned.

“He’ll say he has nightmares, he’ll wake up in the night,” Lucius Chiu said, of his elder son. “He’s having difficulty coping with the fact that he doesn’t have anyone to play with anymore.”

Lawyer Jim Bickerton, of Bickerton Law Group, added that the lawsuit “is all about keeping kids safe.”

The suit claims school personnel on site had not been trained in water safety or emergency procedures.

“Mid-Pacific’s gross negligence and utter lack of systems created a cascade of reckless failures that caused Alaric’s senseless death,” Bickerton said.

"If I was looking at that place to send kids to school, I would really think twice about it.'

The suit seeks unspecified general and punitive damages.

The school did not respond to the lawsuit’s allegations but said they were saddened by the loss of Alaric Chiu.

The accident has prompted the school to institute new safety measures for outings, such as hiring a certified lifeguard and reviews of all off-campus events by a school compliance and risk management director.

This story will be updated.

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