2 students drown in Bataan field trip-A A +A
Thursday, September 13, 2012
CEBU CITY (Updated) -- Two students of the Cebu International School (CIS), one of them the grandson of former congressman Jose “Dodong” Gullas, drowned while swimming near a waterfall during a class field trip in Bataan in Luzon last Wednesday.
Kyle David Gullas Weckman, 13, and Korean national Jae Hak (James) Jung were with their grade 8 classmates in Sitio Canauan in Morong, Bataan for a field trip and outreach program when the drowning happened.
In the school’s website, CIS superintendent Deidre Fisher confirmed the deaths of Weckman and Jung.
“At approximately 3 p.m. today… one student on the Grade 8 field trip to Subic was fatally injured while swimming near a waterfall. Another child is still missing and an underwater search is ongoing. The parents of the two students have been notified and are en route to Subic with the superintendent. Our thoughts and prayers are with the two families at this very tragic time,” Fischer said in a statement posted on the website at 7:28 p.m. Wednesday.
In another statement posted at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Fischer confirmed Weckman’s death.
“It is with great sadness that we now can confirm that Kyle Weckman has passed away. Family and friends are on site with school representatives,” she said.
Initial reports said that Weckman and Jung were among the 41 CIS Grade 8 students who went to Subic to celebrate their school’s “Philippine Week.”
ABS-CBN reported in TV Patrol Thursday night that the CIS students were in Sitio Canauan Elementary School for an outreach program, where they held a short program, distributed school supplies and hosted a feeding activity.
Aside from CIS teachers, barangay officials and local tourism officers reportedly accompanied the students.
By 3 p.m., the students went for a swim near Kairukan Falls in Canauan, a 30-minute uphill walk from the public school.
One of the local guides told ABS-CBN that he saw four boys swimming and they were going behind the waterfall.
“’Hey guys, don’t go there, don’t go there!’ Sigaw ako ng sigaw. Sumisigaw na sila, help daw, help! Lumulutang yung bata. Pinilit kong abutan ng buho. Kahit medyo alanganin yung pag-abot sa kanya, pinilit ko talagang iabot sa kanya. Nahawakan niya tapos dahan-dahan kong dinala rito sa mababaw (I told them ‘Don’t go there!’ I kept calling out to them. They also called out for help. Then I saw one of the boys floating. I tried my best to hand them a bamboo even if it was difficult to reach them. One of them was able to hold on to it),” Ed said, recalling how he rescued one of the four boys.
Another local guide, Bako, dove in to save Jung.
“Dinala ko siya rito papunta dito sa may sulok kung saan yung dalawa pa. Noong hawak-hawak ko na siya, nabitawan ko naman… (I tried to bring him to this corner where I brought the two other boys. I was able to hold his hand but it slipped),” he told TV Patrol.
Jung’s body was recovered minutes later, while Weckman’s body was found underwater past 8 a.m. Thursday after a thorough search by a local rescue group.
Weckman is the son of Jackie Gullas-Weckman, the daughter of Dodong, who is also the executive vice president and vice president for finance of the University of the Visayas.
Because of the tragedy, the CIS cancelled all other field trips and arranged the safe return of the students.
The students were on field trips by grade levels to Dumaguete City, Bantayan Island, Manila, Subic, Moalboal in Cebu, Danjugan in Negros Oriental and San Remigio in Cebu.
Fischer said that immediately after incident, Brent International School in Subic sent its assistant headmaster, athletics director, counselor and school pastor to comfort and provide counseling to the other students and their companions.
Jung’s body was brought to a funeral home in Makati City. His parents reportedly arrived from Korea on Thursday.
In a press statement, the Gullas family announced “with great sadness the untimely death of Kyle David Gullas Weckman,” and confirmed that a Korean student also died in the accident.
“We regret to say that no other detail can be provided as the matter is still being investigated. In the meantime, we ask to be indulged some private moments to deal with our grief. Any further announcements will be made when details permit. For the moment, this is all we can share to the public. Thank you for your kind understanding. And to those who helped us deal with the situation, our deepest and sincerest gratitude,” the family said.
The CIS administration has scheduled a 1 p.m. community meeting with parents today, Friday, to discuss the accident and address the parents’ concerns and questions regarding the field trip. (EOB/Sun.Star Cebu)