Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Murrieta Valley Unified School District Following Student Drowning

Posted on September 14, 2016

alex-pierceThe parents of Alex Pierce have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Murrieta Valley Unified School District after their son drowned in a swimming pool on school property while in the care of their staff and personnel. The Plaintiffs, Sabrina and Rodriquez Pierce, are represented by Brian Panish, Rahul Ravipudi and Robert Glassman of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and Scott Liljegren of Liljegren Law Group.

“There were promises that lifeguards would be at this event to make sure these children were safe,” Rahul Ravipudi told KTLA in an interview following the filing. “Without a doubt, if they were doing their job – even remotely appropriately – Alex would still be here today, totally harm-free.”

On Friday, June 3, 2016, 13-year-old Alex traveled to the Vista Murrieta High School swimming pool with his Dorothy McElhinney Middle School classmates to participate in a year-end swim party for band and choir students. The students were under the direct supervision of Murrieta Valley Unified School District staff and personnel who chaperoned the outing as well as Murrieta Valley high school student lifeguards who were “on duty” watching over the kids as they swam.

Surveillance video captured Alex as he slipped under the water and to the bottom of the pool where the seventh grader remained for nearly two minutes with no rescue efforts by lifeguards, school district faculty or personnel. Instead, it was Alex’s classmates who made efforts to retrieve him as no other school district faculty or personnel dove into the water to assist. In addition, the on-site lifeguards did not perform CPR on Alex, which allowed precious minutes to pass before Alex was attended to by paramedics from the Murrieta Fire Department.

As a result of the incident, Alex was taken to a nearby hospital and, due to the severity of his injuries, he was airlifted to second hospital where he was placed on life support. Alex remained in a coma until July 7, 2016 when his family said their final good-byes after he was declared brain dead following a final test by doctors at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.

As attorney Robert Glassman told KABC7, the Pierce family hopes this lawsuit will spark future change in the school district.

“If they are going to allow 7th and 8th graders – young kids – to be in a pool, they are going to train their lifeguards better, they are going to be better equipped to respond to emergency situations and that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Alex’s mom issued the following statement:

“On June 3rd our sweet boy was tragically taken from us and we feel robbed. Alex was a smart, happy 13-year-old boy that loved to make anyone around him happy. He had a chance to survive this incident but was failed so many times by so many people. Not only do we want justice for our son but we want to prevent this from happening to any other child and family.”

Watch the KTLA5 story here

Read the KABC7 story here

Read the Press-Enterprise story here

Watch the NBC7 San Diego story here

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