Lifeguard Instructor Claims “Not on the Clock”; Blames Students For Drowning Death of Alex Pierce
Murrieta Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) certified lifeguard and lifeguard instructor Keith Good, who was supervising students at the time of Alex Pierce’s drowning, told police he failed to aid in the child’s rescue because he was “not on the clock” and knew his insurance would not cover him for getting involved. The proclamation of Defendant Good is one of several shocking admissions included in court documents filed by PSB attorneys Brian Panish, Rahul Ravipudi and Robert Glassman in opposition to Good’s motion for summary judgment in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Alex Pierce. The admission directly contradicts numerous statements from MVUSD staff members and students who say Good was not only on duty at the time of Alex’s death, but specifically trained and selected the nine student lifeguards who were assigned to the school-sponsored swim-party.
Video taken from surveillance footage at Vista Murrieta High School’s swimming pool on June 3, 2016 highlights numerous missed opportunities by Good and his lifeguards to bring Alex out of the pool without harm after he slipped under the water and to the bottom of the pool. The 13-year-old boy remained submerged for nearly two minutes with no rescue efforts by lifeguards, school district faculty or personnel who were chaperoning the event. Instead, it was the 7th grader’s classmates who brought him to the surface where two student lifeguards placed him onto a floating backboard and floated him around in the pool for approximately seven minutes without performing life-saving measures. Paramedics arrived and removed Alex from the pool, placed him on the deck with the backboard beneath him to administer CPR before transporting him to a nearby hospital.
One paramedic noted in his report and confirmed in deposition testimony that Good was “standing and doing nothing” and testified that lifeguards “misevaluated the treatment that was necessary”
In an interview with Murrieta Police Department immediately following the incident, Good told detectives that he didn’t intervene in the rescue because he believed the student lifeguards “had it under control since they were both professionals and knew what they needed to do.” He went on to explain that in lifeguarding, “the first rescuer is the person in charge” and he didn’t want to “step in and second guess” the actions of the student lifeguard and “mess up the rescue chain of command.”
Good later testified in deposition that the lifeguards who he trained at the party allowed Alex Pierce to drown and die.
PSB Los Angeles swimming pool accident attorney Robert Glassman spoke to Fox 11 Los Angeles about the tragedy.
Even more startling than Good’s statements to police is his appalling actions in the aftermath of Alex’s drowning. Multiple MVUSD witnesses confirmed that Good was focused on getting his backboard returned, not the condition of Alex or his family, and even went so far as to have the junior varsity swim coach call multiple hospitals to ask if they had his board, stating that he wanted it back. One MVUSD staff member sent a text to the assistant principal at the school stating:
“OMFG Keith Good is concerned about getting his board back! WTF?? Who cares right now.”
Keith Good and MVUSD lifeguards performed a negligent rescue, resulting Alex Pierce’s death. The investigation by Murrieta Police Department determined that: (1) an insufficient number of lifeguards were patrolling the pool; (2) the lifeguards were operating without appropriate supervision; (3) they were all teenagers with minimal experience; (4) the lifeguards had no experience with high stress emergency situations and (5) none of the lifeguards had performed any real world rescues.
Due to the severity of his injuries, Alex was airlifted to a second hospital where he was placed on life support. He 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.
In September 2016, the Los Angeles Personal Injury attorneys with Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and Liljegren Law Group filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Murrieta Unified School District on behalf of the Pierce family.
Trial is scheduled to begin June 8, 2018.