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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Teen dies during high school graduation trip to Cuba organized by Toronto-based S-Trip tour company

Teen dies during high school graduation trip to Cuba organized by
Toronto-based S-Trip tour company
By Alexandra Sienkiewicz, CBC News Posted: Jul 07, 2017 6:17 PM ET Last
Updated: Jul 07, 2017 6:59 PM ET

Alex Sagriff was a student at St. Theresa Catholic Secondary School in
Belleville. She had been vacationing in Varadero with other graduating
students when she was found dead, her uncle confirmed with CBC Toronto.

S-Trip refused to comment when CBC News approached the company at its
Toronto offices, but in a letter sent out to parents and guardians of
students on the trip, it said staff were contacted at 9:30 p.m. on July
6 about a medical emergency.

"Emergency medical services arrived on scene and attempted to
resuscitate the individual. Sadly the death was pronounced shortly
thereafter, and the doctor on scene proclaimed that it was due to
natural causes," read the email.

S-Trip says it is working directly with the family of the deceased, but
cannot share any further details or make conclusions regarding the
circumstances of the death.

Denise Hepburn, whose daughter was also on the trip, said she received a
text message from her daughter last night saying that "somebody was
found unresponsive, not breathing."

She contacted her daughter this morning who said she was upset and that
"nobody wants to be here."

"They had a meeting with them at 11 this morning, and basically they
said that they wanted to let everyone know that Alex had passed and they
were trying to respect the privacy of the family at this time, but they
thought it was of natural causes … and that upset a lot of the
students," said Hepburn after speaking to her daughter.

Global Affairs confirmed with CBC Toronto that a Canadian had died in
Cuba, and in a statement said consular officials in Havana are in
contact with local authorities to gather information.

Concerns over S-Trip

Hepburn said she was emotional when she heard the news from her daughter.

"I started crying, I was really concerned because of a report that I had
watched and read about on CBC … about the trip — the S-trip — and some
of the concerns and issues that students had had in the past," she said.

CBC's Marketplace investigated S-Trip in the episode "Grad trips gone
wild: Investigating S-Trip holidays." The report uncovered underage
binge drinking and hard partying. The staff — sometimes only a few years
older than the students themselves — didn't do much to stop the party.

In response to the Marketplace investigation, the company said it
was reviewing its policies, doubling the amount of training required by
staff and doubling the number of staff for its summer 2017 trips.

Hepburn said that her daughter had tried to participate in an activity
that ended up being full and that the staff member told her, "The bar is
over there."

'Going to miss your bright spirit'

In a statement, the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School
Board said it and the St. Theresa Catholic school community are "deeply
saddened by the tragic news" of the death. Bereavement and crisis
response workers are being made available to help support students and
staff, the statement said.

Meanwhile, tributes and memories are pouring in on the student's social
media pages.

One Twitter user who goes by the name of Alex Supryka, wrote, "One of
the nicest girls I have ever met! And I am so sorry @alex_sagriff no
teen nor parent should ever [have] to go through this pain, and I will
forever be sorry that I couldn't help you in a time of need. Rest in
peace beautiful."

A recent Instagram post from what appears to be Sagriff's graduation day
had hundreds of likes and messages saying she'll be missed.

One user who goes by the name of Jordyn Declair commented, "Going to
miss your bright spirit, love you."

Hepburn wants to see the circumstances of her death thoroughly investigated.

"This girl just graduated, she just had her prom last week and that's it
— she's gone. This isn't OK."

Source: Teen dies during high school graduation trip to Cuba organized
by Toronto-based S-Trip tour company - Toronto - CBC News -
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/alex-sagriff-cuba-vacation-death-s-trip-1.4195307
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