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'How could this happen?' Sister of student who drowned at CDA Technical Institute wants investigation

Amanda Fulton said she wants all of the school's accreditations pulled until a full investigation into CDA is done.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Amanda Fulton said she cried when she heard the Florida Department of Veteran's Affairs cut CDA Technical Institute's GI Bill funding. 

"I just felt relief that now there's not going to be another veteran that falls into this program," she said. "It was a win that we needed."

The VA said the school "may not be adequate to provide training to VA students." It cited two students drowning in classes at CDA in two months, including Fulton's brother, 34-year-old Victor Pierce Jr.

"He was a great brother, he was a great husband, a great father," Fulton said. "He was a veteran. He loved people. He would give everybody the shirt off of his back. He would tell you a joke to make you feel better. He was just a really great person."

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Pierce drowned during a class at CDA in February. According to a police report, he was unresponsive when his classmates pulled him out of the water. The medical examiner's office determined Pierce drowned, and that alcohol was a contributing factor. 

Earlier this month, 41-year-old Fausto Martins drowned in a class at the school. He complained of water in his helmet beforehand.

"When I found out that there was another one, I was just mad, I was angry. I was like, 'how could this happen? Again? How did they let this happen to another family," Fulton said.

"I've spoken with the other family and my heart breaks for them. I actually felt a tremendous amount of guilt that I didn't, you know, do this in the beginning, I felt a lot of guilt. I felt like maybe we could have prevented this from happening to another family," she said.

According to Fulton, the school never notified his brother's wife about the incident. She said she found out from another student. 

Fulton said while she's relieved the VA cut CDA's GI Bill benefits, she wants all the school's accreditations pulled until a full investigation into the school is done.

CDA declined to comment. 

A spokesperson for the VA said there are about 20 veterans at CDA affected by the VA cutting funds. Any impacted veteran can call 727-319-7440.

All certificates of diver competency are issued in accordance with the policies and procedures of the Diver Certification Board of Canada.  

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