Getting a Recovery for a Drowning Death at the Beach and a School’s Failure to Supervise Its Students

Yesterday a 12 year girl drowned while on a school trip at the beach.  See New York Daily News.

If a family member has been injured  from drowning at a beach or pool, please call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to

Classmates and teachers were devastated by the drowning death of Nicole Suriel (below).

      A grief-stricken teacher at the scene

Nicole Suriel, aged 12, was on a class trip to Long Beach on Long Island.  Nicole and her classmates from Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering won a celebratory trip to Long Beach for raising the most money in a walkathon to promote academics.   Columbia is New York City middle school in Harlem.  It is a public school with no affiliation with nearby Columbia University.

N0 lifeguards were on duty, and signs stated that.  Despite the warning, 2 teachers and 3 adult chaperones (including 2 interns) allowed the children to swim.  Nicole drowned in a riptide.  One teacher almost drowned in attempting to save Nicole.

This sad event brings into focus the obligations of both the beach and the school.

It appears that the City of Long Beach would not be bear responsibility for the drowning.  It had posted signs warning against swimming.  At this time, lifeguards  are only on duty on weekends.  However, next week lifeguards would have been present during the weekdays.  Despite this sad instance of bad timing of the trip, Long Beach would not be liable.  

However, it appears that New York City would have liability for a failure to properly supervise its students.  The teachers should have prohibited swimming in view of the lack of lifeguards and the warning signs posted at the beach entrance.

A school stands in loco parentis.  That means that the school, which has been entrusted to take care of the child, stands in the shoes of a parent.  The school and its teachers must exercise the same reasonable care that a parent would have in the circumstances. 

In this instance, New York City would be liable for the teachers’ grievous error in allowing the children to enter the water. 

We have discussed the drowning dangers of beaches in prior posts, such as here and here.   We have also handled drowning cases.

If a member of your family has been injured due to drowning, please call me for a free consultation at 899-581-1434 or write to

Mark E. Seitelman, 6/23/10,


One Response to Getting a Recovery for a Drowning Death at the Beach and a School’s Failure to Supervise Its Students

  1. […] Getting a Recovery for Injuries or Death from Drowning; A Follow-Up to the Sad Case of Nicole Suriel On June 23rd 12  year old Nicole Suriel drowned while on a school trip at Long Beach, New York.  She and her classmates were allowed to enter the ocean without a lifeguard present.  See our prior story here. […]

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