Valley News -

Alex Pierce's family backs Melendez' school safety bill


Last updated 4/9/2019 at 5:23pm

Courtesy photo and Jeff Pack photo

Alex Pierce, left, drowned in the Vista Murrieta High School pool while attending a pool party in 2016. His family will attend the first legislative hearing on Wednesday, April 10 in support of Assembly Bill 1214, introduced by Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore.

RIVERSIDE - The first legislative hearing on a Riverside County lawmaker's bill, which would require that teachers receive biennial training in CPR for the safety of students, will be attended tomorrow by the family of a Murrieta boy who drowned in a school pool, where no one was prepared to attempt to resuscitate him.

The family of 13-year-old Alex Pierce will join their attorney, Robert Glassman, during the hearing in Sacramento on Assembly Bill 1214, introduced in February by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore.

Glassman is slated to address the Assembly Committee on Education, sharing the story of what happened to Alex on June 3, 2016, at the Vista Murrieta High School pool and its impact on the boy's loved ones and community.

Under AB 1214, school districts throughout the state would be required to offer educators CPR certification training as part of a professional growth program administered by the American Red Cross every two years.

Melendez, whose two oldest sons were both involved in competitive water sports while in high school, said her bill directly addresses the need for teachers to have "the ability to protect the school children entrusted to their care.''

Last August, Alex's parents, Sabrina and Rodriguez Pierce, accepted an $11 million settlement with the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, ending civil litigation stemming from their son's death. He was taken off life support on July 7, 2016.

The settlement required the school district to modify its safety protocols along the lines of what Melendez's proposal would mandate.

Alex was taking part in a party at Vista Murrieta High School, sponsored by McElhinney Middle School, when he slipped beneath the water unnoticed while swimming in the deep end of the competition pool. Glassman said the boy remained submerged almost two minutes before several of his seventh-grade classmates spotted him, dove under and retrieved him, bringing him unconscious to the surface.

Two teenage lifeguards, who had been hired by the booster club, then placed the boy on a backboard, and for the next seven minutes, floated him around the pool, unable to decide what to do next, according to the plaintiffs.

They alleged that the chief swim and dive coach for Vista Murrieta at the time, Keith Good, stood by and did not make any effort to initiate CPR, even though he was qualified. Good later said in a deposition that he believed the lifeguards could handle the situation.

A Murrieta police investigation later determined that the pool party had been inadequately staffed, and those lifeguards observing the activity lacked experience in high-stress situations, with none ever having performed an actual rescue.


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