Risky Canoe Trip May Result In Lawsuit

Tuesday, 05 May 2009
I believe somebody is going to be in trouble.

Last week senior students from Harpeth High School in Tennessee went on a school canoe trip. No problem there. The problem was that it flooding rains causes the river to run at higher then normal levels causing the trip to turn into a two-hour emergency rescue due to severe weather including lightening and a very heavy downpour.

Several canoes tipped over and had to swim to shore. In the chaos, six students went missing but eventually all 62 students and 5 chaperones were rescues and brought home safely.

Of course, you know where this is going. Several of the parents have gotten together and are looking into a lawsuit against the school board, teachers and the rental company (with the appropriately name), Tip-A-Canoe.

The school board is trying to figure out exactly who allowed the kids out on the river. The canoe company said that they warned the school leaders about the danger and said that the teacher was keen to get on the water.

"The teacher was real gung-ho, 'Rain or shine, we're going on the river, rain or shine,'" said David Spear of Tip-A-Canoe.

Though, student Steven Black has a slightly different impression of the whole thing, "Between us pushing the teachers to let us go, the teachers letting us go, and Tip-A-Canoe, they didn't say anything. They laughed at us on the way out there," said Steven Black.

The last interesting point of the whole thing is that many of the students were not wearing life jackets when they needed to be rescued. There are reports they were told to put them on but later took them off during the trip.

So to summarize, we have a group clients really keen to get on the water and a rental company is worried that the weather is too dangerous. During the conversation, the students are allowed to go but told to put on life jackets. Supervision on the water doesn't seem to be enforced as students are allowed to remove their life jackets during the trip down the swollen river. During the day, several people panic and tip out in the water causing the group to separate and get lost from each other. Rescue crews find everybody about 2 hours later. Parents outraged.

What a mess. As I mentioned earlier, somebody is going to be in trouble.

More info: wsmv.com
Video link: wsmv.com/video/19346875/

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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