Parents protest iffy response to son's death at Dam Sen Park

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The parents of a six-year-old, who died last week at an entertainment park in Ho Chi Minh City, have demanded further investigations into the death of their son.

District 11 police investigators found the body of Nguyen Dinh Nhat Huy in a waste treatment lake in Dam Sen Amusement Park on April 26.

Huy, a pupil of An Phuc Primary School in District 3, went missing a day earlier during a school trip to the Dam Sen Park.

The boy's parents, Nguyen Dinh Huy Cuong and Quach Ngoc Han, have questioned the police report, which suggests that Huy drowned in a sewage lake. They have also accused Dam Sen authorities of neglect, which contributed to the death of their son.

In a letter to the District 11 procuracy, the district's prosecutor's office, the parents said that teachers went to the park authorities to report the missing student, and requested them to make a loudspeaker announcement. However, the officers refused to do so since it was lunch hour.

Vo Phan My Soan, the school principal, told Thanh Nien that the teachers first approached park officials at 1:20 p.m. but the announcement was not made until 2 p.m., the end of lunch hour.


Psychologist Ngo Xuan Diep, who has ten years of experience working with autistic children, said that both Dam Sen Amusement Park and the teachers should be held responsible for Huy's death.

"Children with autism tend to be unaware of dangers. If they like water, they will just plunge into a pool without caring about its depth," he told Thanh Nien Weekly.

"Some autistic children are very quick and it is really difficult to keep track of them. Many schools for autistic children employ teachers with little or no experience, which can lead to potential disasters," he said.

Diep said teachers and parents must keep a close watch on autistic children especially when they are taken out of familiar surroundings, like for a picnic or school trip.

"A single teacher cannot be expected to take care of a whole class during an outing. Each autistic child must be accompanied by an adult. Normally, parents are invited to participate during such outings," he said.

"Only a close watch by adults can completely ensure a child's safety," Diep stressed. (Reported by Minh Hung)

The parents only found out when they called the teachers to enquire about their son two hours later.

As soon as they heard the news, the couple, along with friends and relatives, rushed to Dam Sen Park to look for the missing boy. Some 30 people searched all the lakes, including the sewage lake, in the park but Huy was nowhere to be found.

"We had searched the sewage lake thoroughly on April 25, so it came as a surprise when the police announced they found the body there a day later," the couple wrote.

They believe the boy had died somewhere else and the report was untrue.

Han, Huy's mother, said her son was autistic, and the teachers should have kept an eye on him at the park.

"The school and teachers in-charge are responsible for the safety of kids during any school trip. After the teachers reported him missing, the park authorities should have taken immediate action, rather than being rigid about lunch hour off-time.

"I want to ensure that the park authorities own up to their responsibilities so that no other innocent child has to pay the price like my son did."

Meanwhile, Ha Thanh Linh, director of Dam Sen Park, told the local news website VnExpress that it was a "regretful accident" and the park did its best to search for the boy after he was reported missing.

"The lake where Huy was found is rather small, so his family may have missed it," Ha said.

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