Football coaches waited 26 minutes to call 911 before teen’s death, Missouri suit says

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Before Kadin Roberts-Day was pronounced dead in September 2019, he was “starved of oxygen” at his high school football practice while coaching staff waited to call 911, according to a lawsuit recently filed in Missouri.

He was 15.

Nearly three years after Kadin’s death, mother LaShonda Roberts is suing certain team personnel and employees of the Joplin School District who were at the deadly practice.

In the lawsuit filed May 16 in Jasper County Circuit Court, her legal team says coaching staff waited at least 26 minutes to call for help from when surveillance video captured Kadin first struggling to breathe.

Joplin School District, in southwest Missouri, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on May 26.

The sophomore student had a “history of severe asthma” known to the football team staff, according to the lawsuit. On Sept. 4, he and his teammates were doing conditioning exercises inside a gymnasium because it was too hot outside.

“During the indoor practice, the players, including Kadin, ran up and down bleachers and around the indoor track” while in full pads and helmets, the lawsuit says.

At 5:02 p.m., a screengrab of surveillance video shows Kadin in uniform 63 “struggling to catch his breath as he stops running and places his hands on his knees.” This happened at least four times in four minutes.

At 5:07, he again is seen stopping to catch his breath as two teammates stopped to help.

“Approximately 90 seconds later, Kadin resumes moving around the track, now walking alongside a teammate, but must stop again and rest on his knees after 30 seconds,” according to the lawsuit. He continued struggling to breathe as coaching staff and school employees were observing players.

Ten minutes after the teen was first seen struggling, the legal team says a teammate called for help. An assistant football coach spoke with Kadin and saw he was “having trouble breathing.”

The assistant coach called the player’s mom and stayed with Kadin for a few minutes, according to the lawsuit. An athletic trainer also checked on the teen at 5:19 p.m. and did not call 911.

Kadin’s struggle for air continued, the lawsuit says, and at 5:20 p.m., his mom called the assistant coach back. She asked the coach to call for an ambulance if his condition was not improving.

Still, nobody called for first responders’ help, the legal team said. Instead, the lawsuit says the athletic trainer placed an ice pack on his back and shoulders.

Kadin collapsed at 5:26 p.m., according to the lawsuit. As he lay on his stomach unconscious, coaching staff waited two more minutes before calling 911 at 5:28 p.m.

That was 26 minutes after Kadin first struggled to catch his breath.

In the call, the legal team states the defendants did not say that Kadin was struggling to breathe or that they were in the gym. They only said he was passed out.

So, when help arrived, they headed to the football field, according to the lawsuit.

First responders finally found Kadin at 5:37 p.m.

The teen was intubated and placed on a gurney at 5:41 p.m., the lawsuit states, and emergency crews gave Kadin CPR as he was taken to a hospital.

When Kadin got to the hospital at 5:59 p.m., he was in cardiac arrest, according to the plaintiff’s attorney. He was pronounced dead three minutes later.

In the lawsuit, the legal team representing his mother says the employees’ failure to immediately call 911 — and failure to provide CPR, give an exact location to 911 dispatchers, use the school’s automated external defibrillator and share the severity of the teen’s condition — led to Kadin’s death.

Joplin School District policy says staff are to immediately call 911 if a student suffers “breathing complications,” according to the lawsuit. Staff are also required to administer CPR or use the automated external defibrillator if a student is in cardiac arrest.

His mother is suing for at least $25,000 in damages.

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