The family of Alaric Chiu, the 5-year-old boy who died on a kayaking trip, filed a lawsuit today against Mid-Pacific Institute, where the child was attending a spring break program.
The First Circuit Court complaint against the private K-12 school, as well as Mid-Pacific’s former extended learning coordinator Puakailima Davis, alleges reckless behavior and gross negligence on the part of school employees, which caused the “untimely and tragic drowning death” of the kindergartner. Davis is also the daughter and supervisor of Maria Davis, the spring break program staff member who also died when a wave upended the kayak carrying her and three children.
The lawsuit also names Kaehukaiopalemano Davis, the brother of Puakailima Davis who was also on the spring break field trip, and her father Wendell Davis, who was a kahu at Mid-Pacific at the time.
Puakailima Davis, who is working as a dorm advisor for Kamehameha Schools, could not immediately be reached for comment. Mid-Pacific officials did not immediately return a Honolulu Star-Advertiser request for comment.
“We trusted the school with our son, but instead they killed him. We do not want any other families to go through what we went through,” said Lucius Chiu, the father of Alaric Chiu, in a news release issued by Bickerton Law Group, the law firm representing the family.
Attorney Jim Bickerton said there were discussions with Mid-Pacific before filing the suit “but it became clear that they do not acknowledge or understand the gravity of the problem and what it will take to set things right and make sure this never happens again.”
Chiu was attending Mid-Pacific’s spring break day camp program on March 28, 2019, when the coordinators took an “unplanned, unscheduled detour” to Kaaawa, where there were no lifeguards.
Despite the kindergartner’s inability to swim, Chiu and two other children were loaded onto a two-person kayak with Maria Davis. None were wearing life vests. The kayak capsized and two of the children were able to cling to the boat, while Chiu and Davis drowned.