CLEVELAND, Ga. – A 13-year-old boy who died after being restrained at a state-run camp for troubled youngsters had told counselors he needed his asthma inhaler about an hour before he stopped breathing, records show.
Travis Parker (search) was restrained at the Appalachian Wilderness Camp (search) for roughly 90 minutes on April 20 by counselors who said he was acting belligerently, and during the first 10 or 15 minutes he asked for his inhaler, said a report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (search).
However, counselors did not give him the inhaler because a certified emergency medical technician saw no indications such as wheezing that he was having an asthma attack and because the boy had a history of asking for his inhaler when he was being restrained, said the report from the state Department of Human Resources, which runs the camp.
It said Parker went limp and some of the children who witnessed the incident told investigators that counselors commented "He is playing the dead fish game, he's faking," the newspaper reported Saturday.
He died the next day at a hospital. Autopsy results are pending, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the death.
The boy's family expected he "would receive nurturing and support" at the camp, said a family statement. "Instead, sadly it appears the young Travis Parker received brutality and death."
Dena Smith, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Resources, said it was the first camper death at two state camps for children in the juvenile justice system or in mental health programs. She said staff members were put on administrative leave during the investigation.
Dr. Amy Hirsh, of the Peachtree Allergy and Asthma Clinic in Atlanta, would not comment on the incident, but said a child should never be denied an emergency inhaler.
"Untrained medical professionals should not make a judgment call on whether a patient needs his or her rescue inhaler or not. If a child asks for a rescue inhaler, they should be given it immediately without questioning," she said.