Death of University of Virginia Student on Field Trip Demonstrates the Need for Field Trip and Study Abroad Preparedness

In a tragic accident 22-year-old University of Virginia student Casey Schulman was killed when the propeller of a motor boat hit her as the boat was being moved.  The incident occurred in Dominica which is located in the Caribbean.  Ms. Schulman was killed during a boating excursion that was not a scheduled part of the universities’ “Semester at Sea” program.  Ms. Schulman and a group of students from the program apparently chartered the boat as for a snorkeling trip as an independent excursion.

Police have determined that the victim was killed when the boat was being reversed. 

University Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia Lampkin released a statement that indicated that a memorial service was being held on the Semester at Sea vessel.

This tragic incident demonstrates why it can be so important for K-12 and higher education officials to be prepared to address crisis situations that occur on field trips and study abroad programs.  Whether taking a group of elementary students to the local zoo, a group of high school students to visit universities or a group of students abroad, crisis situations can occur.  Addressing critical incidents away from campus can be challenging, particularly when an incident occurs in another state and even more so if it takes place in another country.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.