Santa Paula Times

Counselors deal with students in sudden death of 9th grader

June 01, 2005
Santa Paula High School

Counselors were a strong - and comforting - presence on the campus of Santa Paula High Friday after the sudden death of a 14-year-old male student.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesCounselors were a strong - and comforting - presence on the campus of Santa Paula High Friday after the sudden death of a 14-year-old male student.Superintendent Dr. David Gomez said that the unidentified 9th grade student had gone into “some sort of convulsion” while on his way to early afternoon class on Thursday. “Our security immediately did CPR and called 911,” and Santa Paula Fire EMTs and ambulance paramedics treated the student on scene before transporting him to Ventura County Medical Center.At about 4 p.m. VCMC medical staffers told the boy’s family members and friends - as well as Dr. Gomez and other school officials - that he had passed away. The family members present did not include the boy’s parents, who were returning to Santa Paula from a trip to Mexico.“I was very impressed with the medical staff” and their sensitivity dealing with the Spanish-speaking family members in trying to explain what had occurred, noted Dr. Gomez. “Everyone took it very, very hard...all of our prayers and thoughts go to the student and his parents. It’s very tragic for us also when we lose one of our students. He just seemed to be your typical average student, not getting into trouble and doing his schoolwork.”
Campus rumors have centered on a drug overdose as being the cause of death; the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting an autopsy. “There have been some rumors, but we do not want to substantiate anything before we have the facts” from an investigation by Santa Paula Police, school security and SPUHS administration.Intervention teams, counselors and a psychologist were on campus Friday meeting with students, including those from the Santa Paula Elementary School District. “The elementary district was very nice to provide us with their counselors; it’s a real humane effort that our community is putting out to help our students and the student’s family any way that they can. I’m sure the family would want to thank everybody for trying to deal with situation of their lost son.”Dr. Gomez noted that if autopsy results show that the death “was drug-related, I caution all our students not to take drugs, and tell their friends the same thing... they’re all very precious to us and it’s tragic, foolish to die from drugs.”If the boy’s death is found not to be drug-related, parents in the community should still address drug dangers: “They should love and talk to their kids and tell them how dangerous drugs are and not to take them. Even if this tragic death is not drug-related, that message still goes out. Our school board feels the same way, and are very concerned about the safety of our students and the impact that drugs could have on them.”