Ontario provincial police have charged a 54-year-old teacher in connection with the death of Toronto high school student who drowned while on a school trip to Algonquin Park last year.
Jeremiah Perry, 15, was on a multi-night field trip with several other students in a remote area of Algonquin Park and was reported missing on July 4, 2017.
Police said the boy had been swimming with a group of students when he went underwater and didn’t resurface. His body was found a day later by search and rescue divers.
Nicholas Mills, of Caledon, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) could not confirm if Mills was still a full-time teacher or if he was on home assignment.
Perry’s father issued a statement, saying they are “relieved that the investigation has resulted in criminal charges.”
“We believe these charges are warranted under the circumstances,” said Joshua Anderson.
“This last year has felt like an eternity for my family and I, but we understand that it takes time to fully investigate a tragedy like this. We understand the O.P.P.’s investigation to have been very thorough and have been in regular contact with them over the last year.”
“Although nothing that happens now can bring back Jeremiah or take away the pain of losing him, we hope that having the case proceed through the criminal justice system will be one important step in ensuring that a tragedy like this never happens again on a school trip.”
According to the TDSB, Perry hadn’t passed a mandatory swim test before the trip.
The board’s director of education, John Malloy, said that of the 32 students who went on the multi-day canoe trip to Algonquin Park in July, 15 had failed the swim test. There was no documentation for two of the students, he said.
Malloy said all students on the trip were required to pass a swim test set out by the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association, which included a rolling entry into deep water, treading water for a minute and a 50-metre continuous swim.
Two teachers were on the field trip.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said Thursday that communities “have an obligation to keep kids safe.”
“I went to the funeral for that boy and I met his family and I stood next to his casket quite frankly and it was just one of those things where you said to yourself that kind of thing shouldn’t happen,” Tory said.
Mills is scheduled to make his first court appearance in Toronto on Sept. 11.