Taipei, Nov. 14 (CNA) The Taiwan High Court on Tuesday overturned the convictions of three swimming coaches found guilty of negligence causing serious injury for their involvement in a 2018 diving accident that left a student paralyzed.
The verdict, which can be appealed, determined that the accident was the result of the student’s “lack of coordination when he jumped into the water” and not negligence on the part of the coaches.
The then-12th-grade student, surnamed Chang (張), suffered a spinal injury that left him paralyzed after diving from a starting block and hitting his head at the bottom of the pool.
A lower court last year originally found the three coaches guilty on the grounds that the pool, which was 9-16 centimeters short of the 135 cm competition standard, should not have been used for diving practice.
However, according to the high court, a panel of experts confirmed that the instructions given by Chang’s main coach were accurate, and it was not until the student’s third jump after in-person demonstrations by the coach that the accident occurred.
In the first trial, the court agreed with prosecutors the defendants failed to consider the water level at the shallow end of the pool was not deep enough to be used in official competitions.
But the high court overturned the decision, saying that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the 188-cm-tall student would not have been injured in a regulation pool.
In addition, the swimming pool at fault was used for training rather than for matches, and the defendants should not be held responsible for the accident due to the lack of clear instructions from the authorities to begin with, the court said.
Meanwhile, the district court in August rejected a NT$48.14 million (US$1.48 million) compensation demanded by the student’s parents based on the Civil Code, stating that they should resort to the State Compensation Law instead.
(By Lin Chang-shun and Lee Hsin-Yin)