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School head: Boating teacher qualified

Jan. 17, 2013 at 9:09 AM   |   Comments

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The head teacher at a Danish school said a teacher who died in a boat accident that injured six students was qualified to take the children out on the water.

Truels Achton Truelsen, head teacher at Lundby School, testified Wednesday about the competency of teacher Michael Jorgensen, one of two teachers aboard the dragon boat when it capsized in freezing waters in Praesto Fjord in February 2011, The Copenhagen Post reported.

The boat was carrying 13 students ages 16 to 18, six of whom suffered brain damage from being in the frigid waters too long. A 33-year-old female teacher and seven of the students managed to swim to shore on their own. Jorgensen, 44, was the only one who did not survive the accident.

Truelsen is on trial for involuntary manslaughter though he was in Austria at the time of the incident. He faces a possible four years in prison if convicted.

A report by the accident investigation board said the school underestimated the risk of taking the boat out into the water during that time of year and violated maritime law by not making sure the students wore life jackets.

Truelsen testified Wednesday he was surprised the students were taken out on the water so early in the year but trusted Jorgensen's judgement.

Four students testified Wednesday, and one, Nicklas Bohm, said Jorgensen was not pleased with their training for an upcoming dragon boat race.

"He was a bit angry and shouted at us because he didn't think that we were rowing hard enough," Bohm said, adding that he respected his teacher. "But he had a tendency to be tough and could push people's boundaries."

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