$7.26 million settlement reached in Kaʻaʻawa school field trip drowning of 5-year-old

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The parents of a 5-year-old who drowned on a school field trip in March 2019 have reached a settlement with Mid-Pacific Institute (Mid-Pac) for $7,262,500.

Alaric Chiu was a student at St. Andrew’s School and was attending a Spring Break program that was run by Mid-Pac. During a school field trip in March, Alaric was on a kayak off Kaʻaʻawa with others when that vessel flipped–two children were rescued; 5-year-old Alaric Chiu and 63-year-old Maria Davis were unresponsive when rescuers got to them. 

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After the tragedy, Mid-Pac fired the Vice President of external affairs and enrollment management as well as the learning coordinator. They also added a new full-time position to assure their programs comply with safety standards.

The Chiu family filed a lawsuit in January 2020 against Mid-Pac and its employees, alleging that their reckless and grossly negligent conduct caused Alaric’s tragic drowning.

Alaric’s mother, Kana Inabushi, said on reaching the settlement : “It was difficult to add the stress of litigation to our unbearable loss, but we are glad that we did it, not just for Alaric but for everyone’s children. We needed justice for our little boy, and helping to prevent this from happening to anyone else gives Alaric a measure of justice.”

Mid-Pac released the following statement on Monday, April 19:

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Alaric Chiu in March 2019. There is no greater responsibility or higher priority than the safety of our students, and we reaffirm our commitment to taking all necessary actions… This tragedy was truly heartbreaking. We are hopeful this settlement and additional school safety protocols will help all in our community as they process these events, and move forward together.  

Paul Turnbull, Ph.D., Mid-Pacific President

In the statement, Mid-Pac also listed the following changes they have done in the past two years to address safety and security issues:

  • Restructuring the Mid-Pacific senior leadership team 
  • Adding a new compliance and safety officer to the management team and a new director of the school’s extended learning program
  • Implementing enhanced water-based health and safety protocols, and off-campus trip protocols for students, faculty, staff and volunteers
  • Requiring specific, annual health and safety training for faculty and staff

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