Trips under review

2013-08-19 00:00

THE parents of young Chris Loxton (15) will have to wait six weeks for any definitive answers to what may have caused his seizures and untimely death on the Hilton College Outward Bound leadership camp last week.

Chris Loxton experienced a seizure causing teachers to seek medical assistance.

But paramedics who responded to the desperate call for help could not save the teen, who experienced further seizures and died before they could get him to hospital.

A devastated Stuart Loxton said yesterday he and his family have been shattered by the turn of events, but have been humbled by the support they have been shown from friends, strangers and long lost contacts through social networks.

Loxton said an autopsy would be performed to determine what had caused their son’s sudden death.

‘It was shocking to be told that he was having a seizure one minute and then the next we were told he was dead. It just seemed so unreal,” he said.

Another boy, Xilombe Tlakula, who was on the same Outward Bound experience, had to be evacuated and had his right arm amputated after a huge boulder fell on it.

Hilton College held a memorial service on Friday night for Chris Loxton to support his parents and his older brother Nicholas, who also attends the school. Chris Loxton was sporty and active, and had no pre-existing health conditions.

Paul Guthrie, Hilton Marketing Manager, said that the teachers and boys on the Outward Bound programme had all been counselled and were in a very delicate state of mind. “This tragedy has affected the whole school, but especially those who were close to Chris and the event.”

Hilton College has taken the decision to review the future of their Outward Bound exercises. “We are obviously looking at the circumstances around both events.

“But we have been doing these Outward Bound leadership events for years, and one must accept that these incidents were tragic and unplanned. But we are reviewing the event and taking every precaution to make sure parents’ fears are allayed.”

Independent trauma counsellor Thea Joubert said that coming to terms with a sudden death was not easy, especially for the parents of children. “Children at the school will also be affected as they have a big camaraderie, and when a person dies young it makes them feel very vulnerable.

“They may think ‘it could have happened to me’, or maybe ‘it should have happened to me because my friend didn’t deserve to die’. These feelings must be dealt with.”

* A final memorial service will be held in Johannesburg for Chris Loxton at the St Martins of the Veld Church, Craddock Rd, Rosebank, at 11am on Friday.

EVERY school requires parents to sign indemnity forms when their children go on educational outings. Most parents do this without a thought. But when tragedy strikes, many wonder if they should sign away their rights so willingly.

The indemnity form is an agreement in which you waive your right to take legal action in the event of harm caused by the wrongdoing of the other party. Legal Ease Durban legal advisor Jan Roux said: “The enforceability of such an agreement is a grey area.

“South African courts, however, interpret these agreements narrowly and the enforceability of each contact is usually determined on the facts and circumstances of each case. It is very difficult to prove negligence in a tragedy. The facts have to be cut and dried.

“It is possible to cross out the indemnity clause, and initial it and only sign the terms of the rest of the document. Parents can also add the words, “the rights of the signatory are reserved herein” under your signature, which will have the same effect.” Roux advised parents to read forms very carefully before signing.

Earlier in the year, a fun outing to the Royal Show turned to tragedy for Simphiwe Mbense (6) when he allegedly stood up while on a ride and was killed.

His parents had not signed an indemnity form.

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