December 11, 2018

The East Bay Times reported the head football coach Aaron Becker was overseeing a swimming lesson as part of a physical education class he was teaching in May when 15 year old Benjamin Curry drown. A lawsuit was filed against both the teacher and the district after it was alleged that Coach Becker was distracted by his cell phone during the lesson and failed to notice what was unfolding in front of him and the class.

Benjamin Curry, 15, was a freshman at San Ramon Valley High School when he drowned in the school’s outdoor pool during a swimming lesson. It alleged that Ben slipped below the surface during the swim class after becoming fatigued in a water treading exercise. No one including the responsible instructor noticed him slip below the surface and as a result he drowned in the 12-foot-deep pool. His understandably devastated parents are suing the school district and their son’s teacher for negligence, willful misconduct and wrongful death.

Surveillance footage of the area shows the tragic and dramatic footage of the incident which happened in May 2018. This video has not been released to the media due to its graphic nature although the video has been reviewed and submitted as evidence supporting the lawsuit. The family’s lawyer says it shows an exhausted Ben slipping below the surface toward the end of the exercise, in which students had to tread water for nearly four minutes. PE teacher Aaron Becker – who also acts as the school’s football coach – was leading the class. The lawsuit claims that Becker was looking at his cellphone when Ben disappeared below the surface. It was almost an hour before anyone realized he was still in the pool and pulled his body out.

No one including teacher Becker or any of the other students saw Ben Curry drop underwater and no one realized that he was still in the pool when the class ended. Teacher Becker reportedly failed to check the pool or take attendance after everyone was out of the water. Ben’s clothes and belongings were still piled at the side of the pool and his body was found by another teacher in the next period.

The lawsuit further noted no lifeguards were on duty during the class and went on to further state that Becker had minimal water training and his lifeguard certification had expired. Becker is still listed as a teacher and is currently coaching at the school. San Ramon Valley Unified School District has suspended all use of the pools while the incident is investigated and safety policies are reviewed. A new rule will be enforced, ensuring that a certified lifeguard is monitoring the pool whenever it is in use.

School districts are responsible for taking all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of students when they are on school premises. In this case, it will be decided whether the death of Ben Curry was a result of unsafe conditions or negligence on school grounds – known as premises liability.

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