Murrieta Valley School District to Pay $11 Million in Drowning Death of 13-Year-Old

The family of a boy who died following a school drowning incident in 2016 announced a settlement with the Murrieta Valley Unified School District on Tuesday.

The school district agreed to pay $11 million to settle the wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Alex Pierce, according to attorneys representing his family.

The 13-year-old was declared brain dead more than a month after drowning at Vista Murrieta High School on June 3, 2016, law firm Panish Shea & Boyle LLP said in a news release.

Surveillance video shows Alex slipped into the water and remained under for almost two minutes, the law firm said. None of the lifeguards, faculty or personnel present conducted rescue efforts, the company added.

"Instead, it was Alex's classmates who brought him to the surface where two student lifeguards put him on a floating backboard and kept him in the pool for approximately seven minutes without performing any life-saving measures," the statement from Panish Shea & Boyle said.

Alex, a seventh-grader at Dorothy McElhinney Middle School, was pulled from the bottom of the pool during the end-of-year party, which was attended by nearly 100 of his fellow band and choir members.

Paramedics eventually arrived and retrieved the boy from the pool and administered CPR before taking him to a hospital, according to Panish Shea & Boyle. Alex was then airlifted to another hospital due to the extent of his injuries, the law firm said.

His mom Sabrina Pierce said that she obtained a court order to keep Alex on life support hoping that he would improve. The family said their final goodbyes at the Naval Medical Center San Diego on July 7, 2016 after a final test indicated that the boy was brain dead, according to Panish Shea & Boyle.

"Alex had a chance to survive this incident but was failed time and time again by so many, he deserved more than what he was given that day and our hearts are forever broken because of it," the boy's mother said in the statement.

In addition to the $11 million payout, the Murrieta Valley Unified School District agreed to make changes to safety protocols intended to be shared with other school districts in the state, according to Panish Shea & Boyle.

"In a letter of apology to the Pierce family, MVUSD recognized that no amount of money will make up for the loss of Alex's life," the law firm said.