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Family, Murrieta schools settle suit over 13-year-old boy’s death after campus pool party

The family of a 13-year-old Murrieta boy who died in 2016 a month after being found underwater for two minutes at a school pool party has settled a civil lawsuit against the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, court records show.
The suit, filed nearly two years ago , alleged that student lifeguards and faculty at a June 3, 2016, event at Vista Murrieta High School where Alex Pierce was injured “refused” to participate in rescue efforts and did not perform CPR.
Court documents did not include an amount for which the suit was settled.
Pierce, a seventh-grader at Dorothy McElhinney Middle School, was removed from the pool after the incident and  died the following month after he was declared brain dead . The year-end pool party was organized by a booster club for middle-school band and choir students.
The settlement, reached May 16, came less than a month before the case was set to go to trial, court documents show. A dismissal hearing is set for July 2.
Attorneys for all parties in the case either did not respond to requests for comment or declined to discuss the settlement.
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Murrieta Valley Unified spokeswoman Karen Parris said the settlement has not yet been approved by the school board.
Attorneys for the Pierce family said in court documents that the teenager was underwater for about two minutes before his classmates pulled him to the surface.
After Pierce was brought up, two student lifeguards put him onto a backboard and floated him around the pool for about seven minutes before paramedics arrived, the family’s attorneys said.
No one administered CPR on the teen before paramedics came and took Pierce — who was without oxygen for nearly nine minutes — to the hospital, the family’s attorneys alleged in court documents.
Attorneys also alleged that Keith Good, who was present at the pool party and a certified lifeguard at that time, did not help Pierce. Good was Vista Murrieta’s head swim and dive coach and an adviser for the school’s lifeguarding club at the time of the incident.
But Good was not on duty at the time of the incident, according to court documents from his attorneys. The Pierce family’s attorneys disagreed, courts documents showed.
In a bid to dismiss the lawsuit in April, Good’s attorneys contended he could not be held accountable for his alleged inaction because there was no legal obligation for him to aid Pierce.
The Pierce family’s attorneys said Good bears some responsibility whether or not he was on the clock for the pool party where the boy suffered injuries that later led to his death.  
Good is no longer a certified lifeguard or qualified to be a lifeguard instructor, according to the family’s attorneys. Parris confirmed that Good still works for the school district.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge John P. Farrell on April 18 turned down Good’s bid to toss the lawsuit and ruled that Good had not met his burden to show he owed no duty to Pierce — setting that as an issue for trial. The judge was notified of the settlement a month later.
Staff Writer Richard K. De Atley contributed to this report. 

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