Brooklyn teen drowns during field trip at Bear Mountain lake

Posted at 10:09 AM, Jun 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-25 10:57:47-04

It’s happened again.  A New York City school student has drowned trying to beat the heat while swimming on a field trip.

An unidentified 16-year-old boy drowned Monday afternoon, raising  questions about the circumstances and whether or not he was properly supervised.

The group including 48 students and five chaperones from the International High School at Prospect Heights. They went  to Bear Mountain State Park on the Orange-Rockland County border for a day of hiking and fun in the sun.

But things went horribly wrong when a  ninth-grader and another teen who had been hiking broke off from the group and went swimming in Hessian Lake.

The boy’s body was pulled from the lake around 3 p.m. The scenario raised questions about supervision of the trip.  But outside the school Chancellor Dennis Walcott told reporters:  “The student was supervised.  It’s totally wrong to think there wasn’t supervision there.”  he added ” It was the proper staff to student ratio. Everything was supervised properly.”

Walcott says counselors will be on hand to help students and staff cope with the tragedy for the rest of the week.  He told PIX11 News that inside the school, “A number of staff are crying. Students are crying .  It’s tough.”

All of this comes just before the school year ends Wednesday.

Parent Fritz Ellison who has an daughter who attends 10th grade says he has long been concerned about supervision in the school.

“In some cases I think they should do a better job of monitoring of students.”

He went on to say: “I wanted to take my daughter out of the school because of a lack of supervision there.”

Ellison says he refused to let his daughter go on a field trip 3 weeks ago over the his concern over supervision.

This is not the first water tragedy for the school system.  In June 2010, Nicole Suriel drowned while on a field trip to Long Beach, Long Island, when students were allowed to swim in an area that was marked closed to swimming and there were no lifeguards on duty. The teacher in charge was fired.

In this case the chancellor says protocol was followed but “It’s sad for the school community.  It’s sad for the family.  It’s sad for all of us.”