The parents of a Hearne High School student who are suing the school district following their son's death last year in an ATV accident have come forward with their attorney to talk about the lawsuit.
Samuel and Plezzette Pierce reflect on their son's love for rodeos and past dreams of one day becoming a veterinarian. Those dreams were quickly shattered on March 21, 2012. That was the day Da'Jon Pierce, 16 died while riding his teacher's ATV with his classmate, after he lost control and hit a tree.
According to court documents, the two were taken out of class at Hearne High School, without parental consent to assist their Agriculture Mechanics teacher, Darrell Trojacek clean pigs at his ranch for the upcoming Hearne County Fair.
The students reportedly drove the ATV one mile down County Road 452 and got into the accident on the way back to Trojacek's ranch.
While the Pierce family wanted to share their son's story, they asked that their attorney David Wenholz speak on their behalf.
"We were surprised on the lack of follow through on procedures we assumed Hearne had in place that day because this was an entirely preventable situation," said Wenholz.
Wenholz says Da'Jon's parents had denied previous requests for their son to visit his teacher's ranch and claims March 21st would have been no different.
"He didn't even have a driver's license," said Wenholz. "If anyone is familiar with ATVs, you don't ride double, you don't ride on the street, you try to wear helmets and protective gear. What we believe happened is none of that was provided and no instruction was given," he said.
Wenholz blames not only Mr. Trojacek, but also then principal Anthony McGill and the Hearne Independent School District as a whole, as he says all parties allowed Mr. Trojacek to take students off campus to his ranch during school hours without parental consent.
News 3 reached out to Hearne ISD for a response on the lawsuit, and Superintendent Norris McDaniel said in a written statement:
"The Hearne Independent School District has been asked to comment on litigation that is pending against the District involving the death of one of its students. In the interest of preserving the privacy of the student’s family, we will not be commenting on the matter directly.
However, it is important for our community to know that we strongly disagree with the allegations in the lawsuit, but we understand and encourage parents’ pursuit of their legal rights. We have strong policies and procedures in place to ensure student safety, and we want to assure families in the District that our students’ well-being is of paramount importance."
Despite the ongoing pain the Pierce family endures, they have worked to create a college scholarship for students who share the same passion for rodeos as Da'Jon.
The Pierce family has requested a trial by jury.
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