Parents of Teen Who Drowned During School Swim Lesson Sue Coach Who Was Allegedly Checking His Phone

11_28_Swimming pool
File photo: A swimming pool is shown. Getty Images

The teacher of a Danville, California, boy who drowned during a school swimming lesson May 8 was on his cell phone when the incident occurred, a lawsuit claims.

The parents of Benjamin Curry, who was 15 years old when he died, are suing the San Ramon Valley Unified School District for negligence and willful misconduct, The Mercury News reported.

Surveillance footage of the incident shows the teacher on his phone, said attorney Andy Schwartz, who is representing parents Karen and Thomas Curry. "I've learned from reviewing the video and having it enhanced that it appears that the instructor was looking at his cell phone while standing on a diving board, when he should've been supervising the children," said Schwartz.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday with the Contra Costa County Superior Court, The News reported. It claims Curry's class was asked to tread water for almost four minutes by teacher Aaron Becker, who is also named in the suit.

"Defendant Becker, supervising these students without assistance, failed to notice that Benjamin Curry had slipped below the water surface well within his view, and recessed the class at the end of 4th period without checking to make sure that all of his students had safely left the pool," reads the lawsuit, according to The News. "He then left the pool area without taking roll at the end of class, with Benjamin under the water, and Benjamin's clothing and cell phone alongside the pool. 56 students left the pool that day with Benjamin underwater."

Curry was discovered in the pool when the next class began after lunch, The News reported. Officials determined the teenager drowned accidently.

Curry's older sister, Katrina, previously criticized the school district during a board meeting, at which she claimed that Becker was still teaching physical education at the school. "Ben drowned...in P.E. class in front of Aaron Becker and he was left at the bottom of the pool for over an hour," she said, according to The Danville SanRamon. "Becker has been allowed to remain responsible for children's lives while he is still employed and actively teaching P.E. at [San Ramon Valley High School]."

The District recently apologized for Curry's death. "This event was and will remain a tragedy in our hearts and minds forever. The District sincerely apologizes to the Curry family and all community members," San Ramon Valley Unified School District superintendent Rick Schmitt told parents in an open letter published November 2. "There are no words to describe the collective sorrow following the loss of Ben. The District has been and will continue to be in contact with the Curry family attorney to address their legal claim."

District spokesperson Elizabeth Graswich told Yahoo Lifestyle she was unable to comment further on what is now a filed suit. However, she added: "Since the tragedy, the District has suspended the use of pools for all district physical education classes. The District also instituted a requirement that every time District pools are in use, dedicated and certified lifeguards will be present."

The district did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Parents of Teen Who Drowned During School Swim Lesson Sue Coach Who Was Allegedly Checking His Phone | U.S.