(Please NOTE: Depart Smart is taking a Covid-19 Sabbatical.  Please check back with us when the world reopens.)

Did you know students are more likely to die studying abroad than in car accidents?


Tyler's story is the catalyst for DepartSmart.org, helping students travel in life-saving ways. Travel HEROES Safety Training helps you and the ones you love Depart Smart travel safety skills, tools, and contingency plans so you can get help and home.


Safety means the world people travel abroad.  Safety is NOT an accident. 

Tyler Russell Hill was a history buff who considered Dwight D. Eisenhower one of his biggest heroes.  Tyler used to say he'd never get to serve in the military because of Type 1 diabetes, but he could lend his generous hand by traveling as an ambassador of peace. One can imagine the excitement Ty and his family felt the day he received a letter from Mary Jean Eisenhower, on People to People Student Ambassador letterhead saying he'd been nominated to do just that. 


Tragically, all of the excitement soon turned into unbearable sadness when Tyler's life ended in Tokyo, Japan on an Ambassador Group program crisis managed by Docleaf.  Tyler passed away, barely 16 years old, at the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center on June 29, 2007.  Tyler's death could have been prevented had he received medical attention.  There is evidence Tyler asked for help but none was provided. His chaperone, Pat Veum-Smith, denied Tyler asked for help. There is evidence he tried to dial 911. The emergency number in Tokyo is 119.


His parents, Allen and Sheryl Hill, filed a wrongful death lawsuit with the Hennepin County Court in Minnesota on January 28, 2008, against Ambassadors Group, a corporation, People to People International, Docleaf Limited, Larry McGonnell, David Perl, MD, Susan Stahr, Pat Veum-Smith, Josh Aberle, and Angela Hanson.  Judge Porter resided and issued this order:  Judge Porter’s order of June 10, 2009 Tyler's Wrongful Death Lawsuit settled in 2009.


Tyler's parents want to share their story about Tyler's tragedy to help protect other students and raise awareness among parents about the need for safety standards for People to People and other study abroad programs.  There are no laws or transparent reporting on safety records of companies encouraging our kids to go abroad.

They should all return safely. 


Tyler Hill


Born on the anniversary of D-Day,    June 6, 1991

He was a Brother, Son, Athlete, Leader, Role-Model, and Honors Student.

Tyler died tragically and preventably on June 29,      2007 in Tokyo, Japan. 


Tyler's story is told in a Spiritual Memoir - Walking on Sunshine, a US Book News award-winning finalist available on Amazon


Tyler's younger brother, Alec, was 12 years old when Tyler passed.  Alec made this tribute for his big brother, "A Simple Truth."

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