Family Sues Hawaii School Over 5-Year-Old Boy’s Death While Kayaking

January 22, 2020

HONOLULU — The family of a 5-year-old boy who died on a kayaking excursion filed a lawsuit against the school that conducted the trip. The family of Alaric Chiu filed the lawsuit Thursday against Mid-Pacific Institute citing reckless behavior and gross negligence leading to the boy’s death March 28.

The kindergartner was participating in the private K-12 school’s spring break day camp when he drowned off Kaaawa on Oahu.

“We trusted the school with our son, but instead they killed him. We do not want any other families to go through what we went through,” Lucius Chiu, the boy’s father, said in a statement.

Camp counselor Maria Davis, 63, also drowned when the kayak carrying four people capsized. Two other students escaped injury by clinging to the boat, which was designed for two people and was not equipped with life vests.

In addition to the school, the lawsuit filed in Hawaii’s First Circuit Court names former extended learning coordinator Puakailima Davis, who is the daughter of Maria Davis. The lawsuit also names her father, Wendell Davis, and brother, Kaehukaiopalemano Davis.

The lawsuit claims the coordinators of the day camp took an “unplanned, unscheduled detour” to Kaaawa, where there were no lifeguards. The lawsuit also 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,” family attorney Jim Bickerton said.

Puakailima Davis could not immediately be reached for comment. Mid-Pacific officials did not immediately return a request for comment.

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