Mother Seeks New Trial for Son who Died on Mt. Everest Study Trip Posted on November 28, 2014 by Sally Nyemba In a climb from 11,000 to 18,000 feet, the student experienced altitude sickness and died. The mother of a student who died on a died on an excursion to Mount Everest during a study abroad trip is arguing on appeal that it was an official school activity and that the school is responsible for her son’s death. Elizabeth Boisson’s son Morgan, a 20-year old University of Arizona student, was spending his last semester of college studying abroad in China. He participated in a study abroad program hosted by Nanjing American University. During his study abroad program, Morgan and a few of his classmates decided that they wanted to climb Mount Everest. Fatal altitutde sickness The students found that Tibet Tours Company offered excursions. After numerous communications and planning, the students made their way to Lhasa, Tibet, to climb the Mount Everest starting from the base camp at an altitude of 11,000 feet and climbing up to the peak at 18,000 feet, within a span of two days. After arriving in Lhasa, Morgan immediately started showing signs of altitude sickness. Symptoms, which usually increase at night, consist of irrational behavior, shortness of breath and confusion. Morgan’s classmates attempted to descend to a lower altitude, but before they could reach the bottom, he had lost his pulse, and was pronounced dead before the medical team arrived. Before he died, a student called Morgan’s mother and allowed her to share her last words with her son, as he helplessly gasped for his last breaths. Official school activity? His mother is challenging a trial court decision which held that the Tibet excursion not a school activity and thus the school owed her son no duty of care. She asserts that because the University of Arizona reorganized classes, allowed for classes to be made up and helped the students communicate with Tibet Tours Company, the accumulation of their actions proved that the excursion was in fact a school activity. Boisson relied on the Restatement 3rd of Torts, Section 40, which defines the duty regarding special relationships between a school and students. However Restatement §40 it applicable only to risks that occur while the student is at school or otherwise engaged in school activities. Restatement (Third) of Torts: Phys. & Emot. Harm § 40 (2012). The university argued that the Tibet excursion was an off-campus activity outside of the scope of the students’ study abroad trip, and therefore was not a school activity. It relies on a ruling the Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two in Monroe v. Basis School, Inc., “The Charter school did not a owe duty of care to protect student as she rode her bicycle home from school.” If the court finds that it was a school activity, it is possible that the case may be reversed and remanded, and the court may order a re-trial in light of the new facts. The case is Boisson v. AZ Board, et al., No. 1 CA-CV 13-0588.