By Marion V. Ali
The Ministry of Education is investigating the circumstances that led to the drowning deaths of two fourth form students of Escuela Secundaria Technica Mexico, which occurred in San Ignacio Town last week Friday.
The two students, including the school’s valedictorian, Edgar Pook, 17, and Anahi Zepeda, 16, were among the 59 students and four teachers who went on a field trip to the Che Chem Ha Caves in Benque Viejo del Carmen. On their way back, the group stopped at the low-lying bridge in San Ignacio to swim during one of the Macal River’s water level fluctuations.
The river, which at the time had strong currents, quickly swept Zepeda under. When Pook jumped in to save her, he also was swept away. Their bodies were retrieved later that evening.
The students’ parents were required to sign a permission slip before they went on the trip, but the parents say that the slip never mentioned that their children were going swimming as well.
In fact, reports suggest that the swimming escapade was only a discussion that took place while the group was on their way to the site. It appears that the agreement between teachers and students was that if they left earlier than scheduled from the caves, they would go swimming.
In a conversation with The Reporter, Jahmoor Lopez, the Corozal Education Centre Manager, said that the Education Rules states clearly that “if the itinerary of the trip is modified, it’s a violation. Nowhere was there any request for swimming [made]”.
Lopez continued that even if a request was made, the Ministry would have dissuaded them because field trips that involve students swimming require certified life guards to be on the trip.
He said that there are a set of procedures that must now be followed in determining the culpability of the four teachers who led the trip.