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Phoenix school district rolls out new travel policy 6 months after student death on field trip

The Phoenix Union High School District has approved a new student travel policy. This comes nearly seven months after one of its student athletes died on a team trip.

15-year-old Cesar Chavez High School student Christopher Hampton drowned in Show Low Lake in July 2023. 

Hampton and the rest of the football team were camping in the White Mountains. About an hour after everyone had left the lake, the team realized Hampton was missing. He was later found by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Dive Team.

Now, the school district is rolling out a new policy for such trips. It says that all water activities will require prior approval from district administration. It also prohibits activities like swimming, rock climbing and zip lining, unless the activity relates to an Arizona Interscholastic Association sanctioned sport or competition.

But the Hampton family says it’s too little, too late. The family is suing the district for what it calls carelessness.

In an email to KJZZ News, the family’s attorney, Benjamin Taylor said:

“When the Hampton family and I saw the Phoenix Union High School District travel policy, we had the same reaction – it is too little, too late. The new policy is vague and won’t bring Christopher Hampton back to life. Coaches and administrators took students to Show Low Lake, blatantly disregarded warning signs posted around the lake, and still allowed the students to swim. It doesn’t matter how many policies Phoenix Union High School District puts in place as a result of this tragedy. What matters most is that coaches and administrators are trained properly and strictly follow the policy, so this never happens to another student, again. Christopher Hampton would still be alive today if the proper precaution was taken and protocol followed.”

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.