UK & World News
Teen Morocco Death: Parents Slam Trek Company
The parents of a teenager who died in sweltering heat on a school trip to Morocco have attacked the company which organised the trek.
Ken Boon, father of 17-year-old Samuel, said they would never have allowed him to go on the trek if they had known about the arrangements for emergency care put in place by schools expedition company World Challenge.
Mr Boon said: "If we had known that in an emergency there would have been no helicopter, no ambulance, no medic, in fact the best emergency response available was a mini-bus with no medical assistance, we would never have allowed Sam to go.
"In fact, I don't think there is any school in the country that would go," he said, after the conclusion of an inquest into his son's death in Bromley, south east London.
His remarks were made after assistant coroner for south London Selena Lynch ruled that the death of the 6ft 2ins teenager, who weighed 20 stone, came as a result of misadventure.
The inquest heard that on July 17, 2012, the group from Bexley Business Academy went on a trek in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains, during which temperatures reached 39C.
At about 3.30pm, Samuel collapsed and "quickly became unconscious", the inquest was told.
Leaders gave first aid and attempted to cool him and a local guide was asked to get an ambulance.
Over an hour later, a mini bus arrived at the nearby road to transport the teenager to a local medical facility.
Coroner Mrs Lynch said: "Plans for evacuation relied almost entirely upon local agents to find and obtain appropriate facilities.
"They were appointed without their qualifications being checked or references obtained, and were not given any formal training.
"There were no arrangements in place for an ambulance with medical equipment and/or personnel to be provided in an emergency, and the facilities at local medical centres had not been assessed," said Mrs Lynch.
She added: "Samuel ... was not adequately assessed as to his physical ability to participate."
When the minibus arrived, she said: "Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was performed by the leaders and Samuel was placed in the aisle of the minibus. (But) by this time it was probable that Samuel's life could not have been saved even with advanced medical treatment."
Mrs Lynch said the cause of Samuel's death was either exertional heatstroke and/or hyponatremia - a condition where salt levels are reduced in the blood - caused by excessive intake and/or retention of water.
Matt Eastlake, managing director of World Challenge, said in a statement after the inquest: "Samuel Boon's death was an absolute tragedy and our deepest sympathies remain with his family and friends.
"World Challenge's highest priority is the safety of its participants and as the coroner noted, we have introduced a number of new measures since Samuel's death, especially in terms of monitoring participant fitness."
Sam Elms, chief executive of Bexley Business Academy, said: "If we had been made aware from the beginning that in the event of an emergency the best that we could hope for was a local minibus with not even the most basic medical facilities or equipment on board and no trained medic to save lives, we would not as an academy have signed off on the trip.
"The academy community is devastated by the loss of Sam Boon and will never be the same again."
She said she wanted to pay tribute to the students on the expedition and her staff who had done "everything possible" in an attempt to save his life.
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