Another Autistic Child, A Teen, Dies At School After Seizure And Restraint “We Don’t Suspect Foul Play”

By Stephanie Esters, Kalamazoo Gazette, Michigan

Police and school officials say they are trying to determine what
killed a 15-year-old autistic student who became combative and was restrained by staff at Parchment High School.

The student, Michael Renner-Lewis III, appeared to have a good start at the first day of school Monday morning, said Chief William Bongers of the Parchment Police Department.

Sometime that morning, however, the sophomore experienced a seizure.
He seemed to recover, but later he became combative, apparently striking
out at others, Bongers said.

At least four staff members at the high school apparently tried to
quiet the teen, each grabbing one of his limbs and sitting down on the
ground with him inside a large room behind the school’s auditorium.
Michael appeared to calm down.

“At this point, while one of the aides was talking to him, he closed
his eyes,” Bongers said. “Immediately, they realized something was
definitely wrong, and they activated 911.”

At some point, the staffers tried CPR, and when Bongers arrived
after getting a call at 1:57 p.m., he used a portable heart defibrillator to try
to start the young man’s heart.

He said emergency personnel worked on the teen for at least 35
minutes. Michael was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital, where he was
pronounced dead.

Bongers said he had not yet had a chance to interview the staffers
involved in the rescue attempt.

School Superintendent Ronald Fuller said federal privacy laws
prevented him from discussing certain details about the incident.
“The young man was having a really good first day and in no way was
this tied to any disciplinary measure,” Fuller said. “But we feel that at
this time, from our preliminary results, that our people handled
everything in an appropriate manner and we don’t have an answer yet.”
Fuller said investigations are being conducted by the Kalamazoo
County Medical Examiner’s office, Parchment Police Department, KRESA and the
school district.

“We don’t suspect foul play,” Bongers said.

According to a woman who identified herself as a family friend,
Michael attended a special class at Parchment High School. She said
Michael’s parents were not available for comment.

Funeral arrangements were pending at Harper Funeral Home.

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