Letters to the Editor

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BETHEL: District spinning student’s death

Letter by Ben F. Barcus, Tacoma on Dec. 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm | 17 Comments »
December 2, 2011 1:53 pm

Re: “Girl’s death not caused by Bethel staff, jury finds” (TNT, 12-2).

While it has been suggested that the events leading to the death of Mercedes Mears occurred within six minutes, documented facts do not bear that scenario out.

The event began at 8:15 a.m., consistent with school district statements, sworn pre-trial depositions and court testimony. The first 911 call was 7½ minutes later, at 8:22:33 a.m., as documented on a computer call data sheet. A second call was at 8:27 a.m., and paramedics documented their emergency efforts at 8:30 a.m., finding Mercedes lying “unresponsive” on the nurse’s office floor.

Efforts to revive Mercedes included multiple administrations of epinephrine by paramedics. Bethel staff did not follow their own directives requiring “immediate” administration of EpiPen. Also, no CPR was initiated by school staff, even when Mercedes became unconscious.

Responsibility and accountability, rather than attempting to “spin doctor” the facts, and sweep this preventable death under the rug, without any proper investigation, cannot be condoned. Only through acceptance of responsibility for confirmed errors constituting serious, life-threatening negligence, and implementation of appropriate corrective measures, can further unnecessary deaths of children be prevented.

Until that occurs, children’s lives will remain at risk.

(Barcus is the attorney for the Mears family.)

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