My son Joshua was a sustainability major at Arizona State University (ASU) and participated as one of 20 students in a four-week study abroad program in Thailand in 2012. He had been passionate about environmental studies for years, had worked on his passion and was busy preparing for his future. In college, Joshua served as President of the ASU chapter of Oxfam America. In July 2010, Joshua was chosen to go to Boston to receive extra Oxfam America leadership training. Traveling to Thailand to continue his sustainability studies with ASU would have been great for his continued growth and his resume.
On day that he died, Joshua arrived to the beach and saw four students in the water caught in a riptide. Joshua entered the water in order to help them. When two of the students were able to make it to shore, one of them went for help. The help that came was able to pull out the other two swimmers, but they did not realize Joshua had also entered the water and by that time, had been pulled into the riptide. Joshua was the only one that did not make it out. He died on June 12, 2012.
Losing a loved one like Joshua changes who you are. We have come to the realization that our family will never be complete without him and there will never be an occasion that is complete without him.
I expected ASU to tell the students going on this trip that drowning was the leading cause of death, but they did not. Horrifically, there have been many other deaths on that beach. Between May 18th – June 12th, the day of Joshua’s death, there were at least 7 reported drownings in or near Phuket that were monsoon and/ or rip-current related. The students that were on the trip with Joshua were never told of these deaths.
ClearCause gave me a place to focus. In Joshua’s case, there was no investigation, no legal rights for us and no legal ramifications for ASU. ClearCause has done the groundwork to get oversight, accountability, and transparency for students nationwide. This is it. We have to do something to prevent what happened to Joshua and our family from happening to another student and their family.
Mindy Shane, Joshua’s mother