Indiana teacher drowns off Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast

June 13, 2008

Steve Hershberger, the language arts department chairman at FairfieldHigh School in Goshen, Indiana, drowned last week while trying to rescue a struggling student in the ocean off Limón province, according to Limón police spokeswoman Lillian Acuña.

“They had just finished eating lunch and (the group was) swimming in the sea,” Acuña said.

Hershberger, 44, and a high-schooler were trying to reach another pupil who had been dragged out to sea by a riptide on the public beach near Hotel Colón Caribe in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, where the group was staying, the spokeswoman said.

All three ended up stranded and a kayak was sent out to rescue them, she said.

Hershberger was dead when he got to the beach, and attempts to revive him failed, police said.

The two teens were hospitalized, Acuña said.

The hotel frequently advises guests not to swim in the treacherous waters.

Hershberger was one of five adults chaperoning a group of 32 students on a Spanish immersion trip when the June 12 incident occurred, according to a statement on the school’s Web site.

Hershberger taught at Fairfield for 14 years. In addition to his language arts duties, he directed plays and helped coach the tennis team, according to the Web site.

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