Clayton County

'Why were they outside?' ask parents of teen who died after practice in extreme heat

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — The parents of a student who died on the hottest day so far this year want to know how the tragedy happened.

16-year-old Imani Bell passed out at Elite Scholars Academy in Clayton County on Tuesday.

[READ MORE: High school basketball player dies after practice in extreme heat, sources say]

The high school basketball player died after participating in practice during extreme heat, sources told Channel 2 Action News. She was running when the heat index was more than 100 degrees.

Channel 2's Tom Jones spoke with Imani's parents Thursday afternoon.

"She was a go-getter, very smart. Whatever she wanted, she went out for it," mom Dorian Bell said.

Dorian said her daughter was running around the school track and running up bleachers before being rushed to the hospital. That's when she said she received a phone call.

"They said she's in cardiac arrest," Dorian said.

Imani wasn't responding.

"The doctor was very positive," Dorian said.


That changed. Imani's body was overheating, and doctors could not keep her stable.

"He mentioned her skin was just hot like a stove and her body was stiff, so they had ice packs on her," Dorian said.

The teen died soon after. An autopsy will determine how she died.

"I just sat there in disbelief, like, my child is gone," Dorian said. "(The doctor) said this was one of the hottest days of the year. And it could be due to a heat stroke or some of that sort."

Imani's father, Eric Bell, is a basketball coach. He wants someone to answer this question.

"Why were they outside?" Eric said. "Heat index was too high, temperature above 100."

Imani's father said his family wants answers.

"We're waiting for all the facts to come out and we will just sit back and wait," he said.

The school system said the incident is under investigation.

Imani's mother remembers walking outside the day her daughter died. She said the heat felt stifling, and she was just walking.

“To imagine my child running in that -- and that was the first day of conditioning,” Dorian said. "It never occurred to me that I was not coming home with my child."

Students and staff have sent cards and condolences to the Bell family.

Jones asked the school district if it has a policy where students are kept inside because of extreme heat. The district said there is no board policy.