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Wrongful death suit against LUSD over Kong’s drowning may be settled soon

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Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2003 10:00 pm

The wrongful death lawsuit filed against Lodi Unified School District after the drowning of Tokay High School student, Chhayarong Kong, may be settled within the next two weeks, the attorney representing Kong's parents said.

"The parties have reached an understanding but we still have to finalize an agreement," Jeffrey Silvia said.

The two parties entered into conversations with a mediator Monday. During initial talks in May, the two parties could not agree on a settlement value.

A trial date was to be set June 25. The two parties appeared in court Wednesday and agreed to advise the court again on the status of their mediations Aug. 25.

Kong, 16, died May 18, 2002, after drowning in the Tokay High School swimming pool. He was found at the bottom of the pool during a physical education class two weeks before his graduation.

Kong's parents filed a lawsuit against LUSD on Aug. 8. The lawsuit charged that the school district had been negligent in hiring and training employees in charge of the pools.

A fair settlement appeared imminent, LUSD Superintendent Bill Huyett said.

"The reason the district decided to settle the case was to avoid the cost of trial," he said.

Kong was pulled from Tokay High School's pool by several students. He had been swimming in the pool as part of his sixth-period weightlifting class with several other swimming classes.

Kong was seen by another student at the bottom of the pool and was originally mistaken for a towel. Kong was pulled from the pool by several students and teachers who then attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him. When rescue workers arrived at the scene Kong had no pulse. The rescue workers were able to revive Kong en route to Lodi Memorial hospital. Shortly after he was flown from Lodi Memorial Hospital to Oakland Children's Hospital.

Kong died the next day.

Lifeguards now watch over Tokay's swimming pool under a new aquatic safety plan started since Kong's death.

At the time of his death, Kong was set to graduate from high school and begin studying computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

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