The owner of a youth travel business that took graduating Acadia students to Mexico said his staff did everything they could to keep young travellers safe, including teaching “balcony safety.”
Sydney Taylor, 21, died after falling from a third-floor balcony on Tuesday. Police said alcohol was involved.
The Nova Scotia student’s death is the first tragedy the company has had to deal with.
S-trip! says it has taken about 150,000 students on graduation trips since the late 1990s. Company president Alex Handa said the company always sends staff or "trip leaders" with the students, "because a lot of our travellers haven't had the same travel experience that older adults have had.”
Handa, based in Toronto, said safety is a main focus for his student travel agency.
“Even balcony safety is something we bring up in our briefings,” he said.
“I’ve seen [the Hotel Gran Caribe Royal] kick people out of the hotel for climbing a balcony and sometimes people think that’s extreme and they want a refund and they want to sue the hotel, and unfortunately now we know how serious that can be.”
More than 100 students from Acadia's graduating class this year went to Mexico with the company.
Handa said they were having fun and not causing trouble.
“This was not a crazy group,” he said.
Taylor's fatal fall took place at 4:30 a.m. One of Handa's staff was still up and in the lobby and was among the first on the scene.
“The emergency services couldn't have arrived faster,” said Handa. "He did tell me it was quite a quick response. Unfortunately, the young lady passed away almost immediately."
He said his Cancun staff couldn’t have done anything differently.
The Wolfville university said it’s still trying to figure out how to honour her memory during this weekend's convocation.
Taylor would have graduated with an honours degree in political science.
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