Freak Accident on School Field Trip Kills 1 Child & Leaves Another Missing

field tripA freak accident on a school field trip in Minnesota has left one child dead and one more still missing. The group of fourth graders had been digging for fossils when the gravel they were standing on collapsed beneath their feet, forming a hole that swallowed four of the children.

Frantic digging uncovered two of them, but a third was killed and one more is still missing. It's an absolute nightmare scenario for a parent. One minute your child is happy and excited to be headed on a field trip, and the next they are gone. One of the hardest parts of parenting is knowing how vulnerable we are, and it's stories like this that remind us.

We can't stop sending our kids to school or on field trips (unless we want to be paranoid). We just have to trust and have faith that stories like this are the exception, not the norm. But how?

My heart breaks for the parents of these children. I can't even imagine what that call must have felt like for them, though I do have some inkling. It's the thing all parents play in their heads when we send our kids off to school. It's the fear in the back of our heads every time they play at the playground or do a gymnastics flip or run out ahead of us while cars go whizzing by.

Life is dangerous. We all know this. Most of the time, we can put these thoughts somewhere else. We have to in order to get through our days. The other day a friend of mine was saying she was nervous about her kid's field trip and I didn't get why. Her kid is 12 and seems more than capable of going on a field trip. But now I get it.

Though my children are small and I have a pretty decent handle on their day-to-day activities, they are starting to get more independent. Fourth grade is such a time of exploration, such a transition from younger child to bigger one. I can only imagine the fears those parents must have had and the skills it takes to let them explore anyway. Obviously, freak accidents can happen anywhere, but it IS scarier when they go on a trip like this.

Field trips are a good thing. Some of my favorite childhood memories were made on various school sponsored trips. But they do increase the chances of something bad happening. There is less supervision, more opportunity for things to go wrong, and just more variables in general. We can't pack the whole world full of cotton and hide our kids away, but sometimes stories like these make me want to.

My heart is breaking for everyone involved in this awful story.

Do you get scared of field trips?


Image via Marcin Wichary/Flickr

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Sarah... SarahHall58

Most schools make parents sign waivers that releases the school from all responsibility. My mom refused to sign those in case I did get hurt she'd have some legal recourse. I feel so bad for that family. How tragic.

amnew... amnewlon8982

We aren't even asked to sign waivers.

nonmember avatar Stella

If my kid was swallowed up by a gravel pit, legal recourse against the school would be the last thing on my mind. And if a kid's parents refuse to sign a waiver for some activities, the kid can't participate. My daughter's school did a white water rafting trip and two parents wouldn't sign the waivers. Their kids did not go on the trip.

onefo... onefootcutiepie

we don't have waivers either. Do you mean permission slips? Those don't release anyone from responsibility. But in this case, how is it the school's fault that they ground collapsed.

mande... manderspanders

The problem is that modern society now believes that everything can be blamed on someone or something. It can't. Accidents happen. Shit happens. Life happens. We can't live in a bubble and we can't have any guarantees. Let kids be kids; let them go on field trips; let them experience life before they become jaded and cynical adults.

Brain... BrainyMommy

"We just have to trust and have faith that stories like this are the exception, not the norm. But how?"

What do you mean, "How?" By using your brain, assuming that you have one. Look at the number of children who take field trips v. the number who die on field trips. The probability approaches zero. Your kids are more likely to die in a car wreck while you're driving them to school. Are you going to stop letting them in the car? Jesus. Stop allowing your emotions to override your brain.

handy... handy0318

If a school doesn't ask parents to sign waivers it's because they are acknowledging that waivers aren't worth the toner it takes to print them.

A waiver will not prevent a school from being held responsible if it can be proved negligence on their part caused injury or death.

So, parents who are thinking about refusing to sign a waiver...go ahead and sign it and let your kid go.  If something happens and it's the school's fault, you will have legal recourse. No judge is going to deny legal responsibility due to negligence just because of a standard waiver.

I know this because I used to work for a daycare center and I asked one of the parents, who was a lawyer help in drawing up a waiver for field trips. She just laughed and said, "Don't bother..." 

In this instance, it's just a tragic accident that no one could have been expected to foresee. Very sad for those families.  But, life is risk and we can't just keep our kids inside the house all the time out of fear of life itself.

teddy... teddysmama09

I'm with the other moms here. Freak accidents are just that "freak accidents", meaning it was 100% unforseeable. I won't stop my child from going on a field trip because I'm affraid he might die.

Bloom... Bloomie79

Good info on the waiver handy, there is no piece of paper that will release a person or entity whose negligence resulted in injury or death. 

Jamie Wilson

Where my kids go to school they don't have parents sign a waiver but the parents need to sign a permission slip. I do get very nervous when my kids go on field trips that involve swimming.

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