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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Delayed Drowning Case in Federal Judge's Hands

At this time of year, children sometimes encounter difficulties in local pools and swallow large amounts of chlorinated water. There was a recent scare in Bangor. But did you know that after they are rescued, about 1-2% of them are still at risk of drowning? It's called delayed or dry drowning, It happens when someone, while thrashing in the water, swallows large amounts of water. This can cause air passages to spasm and the lungs to fill up with fluid, suffocating the victim. It's what happened to Juanya Spady, a 15 year old Liberty High School sophomore who experts say drowned about an hour after he was out of the school pool. The Bethlehem School District denies it's at fault, but a federal judge will make the call in a case filed by Attorneys Rick Orloski and Stephen Ameche.

Spady, a recent transfer to Liberty and a non-swimmer, attended a P.E. class in which swimming was the activity of the day. He was told to go with the other non-swimmers to the shallow end of the pool while a gym teacher instructed the rest of the class on swimming moves from a deck. Because grades depend on class participation, Spady decided to do some "gutter grabbing," i.e. make his way around the perimeter of the pool by using his hands to keep him afloat. Occasionally, he'd let go, sink to the bottom and bounce back up.

His fun ended when he bumped into a group of swimmers and lost his grip. He was down a long time, but finally made his way back to the surface. Spady told his gym teacher he was feeling ill, and was told to take a break. According to his teacher, he told Spady to spend the rest of the class out of the water, unless he felt better. But one student states that Spady was ordered back into the pool. Several students noticed that Spady was not himself.

After PE, Spady went to English class. But ten minutes in, his head hit the desk behind him, his eyes rolled into the back of his head, and a pink, frothy substance began coming from his nose and mouth. His teacher sent students to get help, and a nurse and police officer arrived a few minutes later. CPR was tried. Mouth to mouth. An AED was used. Oxygen was administered. No pulse. Though he was administered a total of 17 shocks, he died.

Dr. Isadore Mihalikis, who performed the autopsy, called it an unexplained seizure. But flamboyant forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht concluded this was a case of dry drowning caused by a toxic reaction to the swimming pool chlorine. In addition to the pink and frothy discharge, Dr. Wecht noted a high glucose level and epinephrine, which accompanies these delayed drownings.

Dr. Alison Osinski, an aquatics expert, agrees. She also adds that it was negligent for the school district to enroll Spady in a swim class without any regard to his skill level, just as stupid as forcing a student to take calculus without first going through pre-algebra. She states the teacher should have been in swimming gear and the student lifeguard on hand should not have been lying on the bleachers. Finally, she advises there should have been a "buddy system" in place, and that non-swimmers should be equipped with floatation devices.

Blogger's Notes:

1. Attorney Steve Ameche is related to legendary Don Ameche,
2. Pete hall has a good account of this story in The Morning Call.
3. Signs of dry drowning to look for in children: persistent coughing; a recent water rescue or trashing; amnesia; behavior change; vomiting.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Stupid gym class. This educational requirement is a throw back and leads to issues like this. When was the last time a student broke his or her arm or drowned in math class? I say more reading, writing and arithmetic classes than play time gym classes. Its obvious what the students need and whats better for them, than gym.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with 6:12 AM.

Anonymous said...

@5:16 Rick Orloski isn't doing too badly. He just kicked Lehigh Valley self-imagined pro se extraordinaire Mezzacappa's ass, and resulting in her committing yet another crime by fraudulently transferring her house to her mother's name. Also putting her mother in legal jeopardy.

When you need a lawyer, find one. Orloski obviously is good enough to defeat someone who denies she receives mail.

c said...

Good info at the bottom Bernie, thanks. As a parent I have been aware of and concerned about this.

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to figure out what could have been intended because of a typo, but I still come back to the conclusion you are an ignorant racist who lost a case to Orloski.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The comment at 5:16 is pretty disgusting. Could be Mezzacappa, the only person I know who refers to Orloski as Orclownski, and whom I know to be bigoted. But it could also be the Blog Mentor. He comments around that that nearly every day. It is in his interest to foment hate and distrust. He would prefer that no one read this blog at all. So I could see him doing it, too, knowing ot will set her off.

This practice is something they both call false comment attribution. They claim, for example, that I post nearly all the comments here, though I only post those under my own name. They like to accuse others of what they themselves do. Maybe that's a way for them to justify their dishonesty.

Monkey momma said...

Regardless of what the true cause of death is, the school put a non-swimmer in the pool. Why? Why is this permitted? Who insures BASD? Do they know non-swimmers are required to get into a pool?? They should not be in the pool at all. A "buddy" isn't good enough, nor are floaties. This is so incredibly dangerous and foolish as to be unbelievable.

I feel for the parents, family and friends. My sincere condolences.

Monkey momma said...

Also, I respectfully ask Bernie to delete the first comment.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Monkey Momma, I deleted the comment. I did not see it i=until 10 AM, unfortunately, after several people had reacted, so i was going to just let it stay. But you are right to ask that it go.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Regardless of what the true cause of death is, the school put a non-swimmer in the pool."

They did. My guess is that, in addition to trying to get a good grade by being active, the young man was feeling some peer pressure to be like the others.

This was a bad idea, and resulted in a tragedy.

Administrators are paid lots of money to make foolish decisions like these. I know they care about those kids, and hope they change this practice.