Family probes school's handling of teen death

by: Eric Philips Updated:

DACULA, Ga.,None - The family of a Gwinnett County teen who died Tuesday after collapsing at school is searching for answers. They are questioning whether school personnel got the 18-year-old help fast enough before he died of a blood clot.

“On Oct. 4, the day of my birthday, my son Chris was taken away from me,” Donna Smith said through tears at a news conference.

According to the family, Chris, became ill at the beginning of gym class at Dacula High School Tuesday morning. They said he complained to a teacher about having trouble breathing, but nothing was done. He was rushed to the hospital, but the family said that was nearly an hour after the complaint. 

“Fifty minutes? Everyone knows that after 20 minutes your brain is dead,” Smith said.

Tears, hugs and memories were shared at a memorial service for the high school senior. He was a drummer who everyone said was full of love. Loved ones still had many questions.

“I just want to know what happened to my baby,” Smith said.

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Smith, who is a nurse, said her son got a physical in May and everything was fine.  She wants the school to give her a timeline of the incident that happened on Tuesday. She said the school promised to do so but has yet to deliver. The family believes students who were on the scene may have been told they could not use their cellphones to call 911.

Gwinnett County School officials defended their handling of the case, releasing the following statement, "Our schools take these types of incidents very seriously. When a situation occurs in which a student requires medical attention, school staff members move responsibly and efficiently to get the help needed. That is our expectation and that is what happened in this situation."


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