Teachers ignored a five-year-old boy as he lay dying on a school playground because they thought he was playing dead for fun, according to a lawsuit filed by the teen’s parents.
Romeo Pierre Louis died at Charter Oak International Academy in West Hartford, Connecticut, in April 2022 after suffering from a rare heart condition.
Last week, his bereaved parents sued the school, claiming the child might have survived had it not been for their negligence.
Romeo Pierre Louis School Friends tried to alert their teachers at Charter Oak International Academy in West Hartford, Connecticut, after the little boy fell to the floor while playing a freeze game.
He appeared motionless, but the staff thought the pupil was just taking part in a game called playing dead, which was allegedly popular among the children there.
Romeo’s autopsy revealed that the cause of death was Brugada syndrome, cardiomyopathy. The syndrome is a rare but potentially life-threatening heart condition that affects the normal electrical function of the heart
The parents of a five-year-old boy who died after collapsing on a school playground have sued the school and its teachers.
But there was a critical nine-minute delay between little Romeo’s collapse and the cast finally going to check on him.
Only then was medical assistance called with 911 called and an ambulance arriving over half an hour later.
Earlier this week, parents, D’Meza Shultz Pierre Louis and Chantel Pierre Louis, filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that staff at the school simply ignored a situation that occurred last April.
The civil suit alleges that three teachers patrolling the playground believed Romeo was simply “playing dead” and as a result did not respond quickly enough to a medical emergency.
Five-year-old Romeo Pierre Louis fell to the ground while playing in the school playground
Although his friends alerted the teachers, his parents thought he was doing acting and they didn’t react fast enough
The suit for damages of more than $15,000 holds the City of West Hartford and the West Hartford Board of Education liable for the inaction of school staff, suggesting that timely intervention may have saved the boy’s life, but it is unclear if this was the case.
“Romeo was allowed to collapse and lie on the floor for approximately 10 minutes without any medical assistance or treatment – despite the presence of several teachers … in close proximity,” the complaint says.
“By the time the teachers realized that Romeo was not dead and needed emergency medical treatment – it was too late, and Romeo’s life could no longer be saved,” the suit says.
If the employees had followed the city’s policies and procedures, the lawsuit asserts, “Romeo would have received the necessary medical attention he needed and would have survived.”
Surveillance video footage seen by the school shows a teacher approaching Romeo and checking for a pulse approximately nine minutes after he fell to the ground.
In an incident report, a teacher told police how “students approached her and told her (Romeo) was acting weird/playing funny/getting annoyed.”
The report also stated that “Officers were notified that the child had been found by other children who stated that they initially thought the child was pretending to be asleep. The children later suspected that he was not pretending to be asleep and was unconscious.”
The child was then taken from the playground to the nurse’s office where first aid was administered including cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator.
About 35 minutes after the initial breakdown, an ambulance arrived and took Romeo away Connecticut Children’s Hospital where he died two days later.
Romeo’s father, de Mesa Schultz Pierre Louis, was torn as he told how the Lord’s Prayer was his son’s favorite prayer.
Interim Superintendent Andrew Morrow said in a statement that Romeo’s death has deeply affected the school community
An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was Brugada syndrome, cardiomyopathy.
The syndrome is a rare but potentially life-threatening heart condition that affects the normal electrical function of the heart.
It leads to an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, especially during sleep or at rest.
People with Brugada syndrome may not have symptoms or experience symptoms such as fainting, heart palpitations, or cardiac arrest, but they may be diagnosed after a routine electrocardiogram (ECG) or after the onset of symptoms.
Romeo finally died of heart complications. Some of his colleagues and friends noticed his collapse and called for help, A.J Memorial website set up by the fathers explains.
This is why we stand by the mantra, Listen to our children! We are saddened that it was because of this delay in care after his fall that Romeo was ultimately killed off.
Tragically, Romeo collapsed and lay dying on the playground for nine minutes because his parents thought he was playing a game called “play dead.”
The family of Romeo Pierre Louis bow their heads in prayer at the place where he died
All of our children deserve better. As a community, we must stand together to fight for their rights to safety, health, and care! We must be able to trust the individuals and institutions that educate and care for our children.
Interim Superintendent Andrew Morrow said Romeo’s death had “deeply affected” the school community.
“The death of a child is a devastating and unimaginable loss, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Romeo Pierre Louis,” Moreau said in a statement.
“This tragedy has greatly impacted the Charter Oak International Academy community, and the school district continues to provide grief support and emotional assistance to any student or teacher who needs it.”
Earlier this week, Romeo’s parents, family and friends were honored on the first anniversary of his death.
Some carried placards with a picture of the young boy, while others carried placards reading “Watch out” and “Listen to our children.”
“We know nothing will bring our son back,” said Romeo’s mother, Chantelle. All we can do is keep his memory in our hearts and do what we can so that this does not happen to another child. Listen to our children.