A 16-year-old high school student died while on a school field trip yesterday. Jean Fritz Pierre was visiting Bear Mountain State Park as part of a ninth grade field trip with International High School when he and a friend apparently went swimming in Hessian Lake. Another parkgoer said, "There were kids diving over there — boys and girls. And then they started screaming. Everybody thought they were having fun, but actually some kid drowned."
The Journal News reports that signs around the lake say that swimming is prohibited (there are no lifeguards). A friend told the Daily News, "It was too hot, so he went off and came down to the lake ... and went to swim, and he drowned. At first nobody could find him, and then later on the Parks service found him on the (shore)."
There were 48 students on the trip, with at least five chaperones (including the teacher), and they were only in the park for hiking. Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said, "They followed the protocol. The child was supervised. I think it’s fully wrong to think there wasn’t supervision there.” Further, the students' parents apparently signed permission slips.
Back in 2010, a 12-year-old died while on a school field trip to the beach, where there were no lifeguards on duty. On that trip, the parents' never signed permission slips and the chaperones allowed the children to go into the water.