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Parents of teen who drowned in swim class file claim

October 6, 2018

DANVILLE, Calif. (AP) — The parents of a teenager who drowned during a high school swim class have filed a claim with his Northern California school district.

The claim — which is generally a precursor to a lawsuit — alleges that a physical education teacher at San Ramon Valley High School had students tread water for more than three minutes when 15-year-old Benjamin Curry slipped under the water and drowned in May, the East Bay Times reported Friday.

More than 50 students were in the pool during physical education teacher Aaron Becker’s class, according to the claim.

Becker, who also coaches varsity football, did not return the newspaper’s request for comment.

District spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich says officials have not reviewed the claim and can’t discuss specifics.

Family attorney Andy Schwartz said surveillance video showed the students treading water as Becker stood on a diving board. They were instructed to tread for three minutes and then another 30 seconds, according to the claim.

“We don’t understand why the teacher had students treading water the whole time and why he added time,” Schwartz said.

Since the drowning, the school in Danville, east of San Francisco, doesn’t offer swim during physical education. A new district policy requires a lifeguard be on duty during any swim or water polo practices.

An autopsy report in June found Curry accidentally drowned, according to the newspaper. Schwartz said school officials knew the drowning was an accident but didn’t rebut early media reports in which students speculated Curry may have killed himself.

The report also said surveillance video showed Curry’s classmates leaving the pool and no activity until an hour later, when another class arrived and saw the teen underwater.

Graswich said the district could not comment on the investigation while it was ongoing and encouraged families not to speculate on the cause of Curry’s death.

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Information from: East Bay Times, http://www.eastbaytimes.com

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