New video shows how a 13-year-old California boy drowned in a public pool while surrounded by dozens of people.
On June 3, 2016, Alex Pierce attended an end-of-year pool party held for members of his middle school's band and choir. Video from the party, recently obtained by KABC, shows Alex struggling to stay afloat. He waves his arms and bobs up and down, unnoticed by a number of people who are swimming and walking nearby.
Eventually, Alex slips under the water and stays there for almost two minutes before anyone realizes what had happened.
When a rescue attempt was finally made, it was Alex's classmates, not the student lifeguards or school faculty, who led the way.
Classmate Rylie Spivey was the first to come to Alex's aid.
"I dove down there as quickly as I could," she told KABC. "I tapped his arm, checked to see if he was responding. When he wasn't, I grabbed him."
Another student, Brian Bonus, helped Rylie pull Alex out from under the water.
"She was starting to pull him up, so I went down there and started helping her pull him up," he said. "And then we pulled him to the surface."
The lifeguards and school faculty reportedly stood by and did nothing, and it took another seven minutes before paramedics arrived and CPR was administered.
Alex spent about a month on life support before doctors declared him brain-dead. He died in July 2016.
His family has since filed a lawsuit against the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, citing negligence. They are seeking both general and compensatory damages.
"According to the Murrieta Police Department's investigation, Alex was without oxygen for approximately nine minutes," the lawsuit states, reports The Press-Enterprise. "And, according to the authorities, had CPR been administered to Alex immediately, there would have been a greater likelihood of Alex recovering."
Alex's mother, Sabrina Pierce, hopes that by publicizing the tragedy she can help prevent similar incidents in the future.
"Alex was a smart, happy 13-year-old boy that loved to make anyone around him happy," she said in a statement. "He had a chance to survive this incident but was failed so many times by so many people. Not only do we want justice for our son but we want to prevent this from happening to any other child and family."
The school district issued a statement lamenting Alex's death but declined to comment on its internal review of the incident.