Jean Fritz Pierre (pictured) was with fellow students from the Prospect Heights International High School, when he and a friend decided to break off and swim in a lake at Bear Mountain in June. Initially, Pierre and his friend only treaded the shallow waters in Hessian Lake; Swimming in that lake is banned because of deep pits at its bottom.
Park workers who saw the teens in the water yelled at them to get out, but Pierre was dragged under the current soon after the warning. A search team found his body trapped under 14 feet of water. Officials determined the cause of death as accidental drowning. The friend managed to escape unharmed.
Investigators found no wrongdoing on behalf of Department Of Education staffers, concluding the trip was adequately supervised.
“The investigation did not find any misconduct or wrongdoing committed by a DOE employee,” wrote Special Commissioner Of Investigation Richard Condon.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott also backed the trip’s supervisors after the incident. “They followed the protocol,” Walcott said a day after Fritz’s death. “The child was supervised. I think it’s fully wrong to think there wasn’t supervision there.”
The students were also told the trip was for hiking and no swimming was allowed.
Classmate Tanvir Ahmed remembered Fritz as a lovable person. “He was funny,” the 15-year-old said. “He used to joke a lot, and he loved to play basketball. He was fun.”
Fritz was also remembered on Facebook by a friend who posted, “RIP bro you are so young to [have] died. “You was so friendly to everyone at school no matter the person.”
As as result of the findings, no criminal charges were filed and the city is not taking any action against the trip’s staffers.