PORTLAND — A father filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the city of Lewiston and the state claiming the wrongful death of a 13-year-old boy who drowned while swimming at Range Pond State Park in Poland during a field trip last summer.

Rayan Issa Contributed photo

Ali Abdisamad, the father of Rayan Issa, filed a complaint against the city and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in U.S. District Court.

Issa, a seventh-grade student at Lewiston Middle School, was on a school field trip at Range Pond on June 12, 2018, when he drowned.

According to court papers filed by Lewiston attorney Verne Paradie, the trip included 111 students and 11 “chaperones,” all school employees. A single lifeguard was on duty at the beach area of Range Pond, according to the complaint.

A team leader from the school discussed “ground rules” with the students when they arrived at the park. Neither the lifeguard nor anyone else representing the state, which owns the park, spoke to the students about safety rules, according to the complaint.

Sometime after 11 a.m., one of the students reported to a chaperone that he couldn’t find Issa, referred to only as “R.I.” in court papers.


Witnesses said the lifeguard on duty “appeared not to know what to do in the situation and asked other chaperones to get in the water” to look for Issa, according to the complaint.

Local rescue workers who responded to an emergency call found the boy underwater and rushed him to a Lewiston hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The suit claims the city and state are responsible for Issa’s wrongful death and for denying him due process, a violation of his state and federal constitutional rights, for failing to follow their protocols and standard procedures. The lawsuit seeks “reasonable” compensation for damages that include medical, surgical and hospital care and treatment and funeral expenses, as well as pain and suffering and loss of comfort, society and companionship of the boy’s relatives.

According to the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, Issa had been missing underwater for at least half an hour before he was found. A 911 call had been received by dispatch at 11:47 a.m.

“Preliminary investigation indicates the boy was playing in the water with friends within the buoyed swimming area when he went under,” Chief Deputy William Gagne had said.

Emergency crews from the Sheriff’s Office, Maine Warden Service, Poland Fire-Rescue and the Auburn and Greene fire departments, both with boats, had responded to the state park.


“While they were getting ready to launch the Auburn boat, the first boat, some of the firefighters went in the water,” Gagne said by phone that day. “One had a wet suit, one had a bathing suit. They just immediately started looking for the child underwater with goggles.”

Searchers found the boy at 12:17 p.m., still within the buoyed swim area. They took him to shore and tried to resuscitate him. Ambulance personnel had tried to revive the boy en route to the hospital but were unsuccessful. He was declared dead at the hospital, according to a school official.

The student had gone underwater while playing football with friends, Lewiston Schools Superintendent  Bill Webster had said. There were indications that Issa may not have known how to swim, Webster had said.

A Maine Department of Agriculture spokesman had told the Sun Journal the deep end of the roped area was 8 to 10 feet deep. That part of the roped area was meant for swimming only, not wading, he had told a reporter.

Comments are not available on this story.