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Brawley Union High School Student Dies After Medical Emergency During Physical Education Class

Imperial County Officials Investigating The Death of 16-Year-Old Female Brawley Union High School Student Who Died During Summer PE Class

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BRAWLEY, CALIFORNIA (June 29, 2024) – A 16-year-old female student at Brawley Union High School has tragically died after a medical emergency during a summer physical education class.

Brawley Union High School District officials are saying that the incident took place on June 27, 2024. A 16-year-old girl identified only as Sophie was in a summer PE course.

Her PE teacher requested she run extra laps for allegedly being late to class. However, this claim was disputed by other students in an online petition.

Sophie asked to stop running and walk instead, but this request was refused by the PE teacher. Sadly, she ended up falling ill and having multiple seizures before being taken to Pioneers Memorial Hospital, where she later died.

A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.

Liability For Deaths During High School PE Classes

Injuries during physical education classes in schools are unfortunately quite common. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, “the most common PE-related injuries were lower-extremity sprains and strains (23 percent), followed by upper extremity sprains and strains (14 percent) and fractures (14 percent). Middle school-aged children (11-14 years of age) accounted for the majority of PE-related injuries (52 percent).” Many children unfortunately die every year during PE class. Schools should take a number of measures in order to prevent deaths during physical education courses.

  • Schools should perform regular health assessments and screenings for students to identify pre-existing conditions.
  • Schools should ensure PE teachers and coaches are properly trained and certified in first aid and CPR.
  • Schools should develop and practice clear emergency action plans.
  • Schools should provide adequate supervision during all PE activities.

Schools have a legal obligation to protect students from reasonably foreseeable sources of harm. This includes harm during physical activity. Consider, for example, Taylor v. Oakland Scavenger Co., 17 Cal. 2d 594 [110 P.2d 1044], “It is the duty of the school authorities to supervise at all times the conduct of the children on the school grounds and to enforce those rules and regulations necessary to their protection.” When school officials fail to protect children who are then injured, this could form the basis of a negligence claim.

Consider, for example, the tragic death of the 13-year-old who died during a physical education class in LAUSD. The boy collapsed while jogging during PE. Although physical education teachers eventually started CPR, this was ineffective in providing oxygen to the boy’s brain and heart. Medical experts testified that the timely use of an AED machine would have likely saved the boy’s life. The LAUSD eventually reached a $15 million settlement with his family. Several steps should be taken after any death during a PE class.

  • Eyewitnesses should be interviewed.
  • Medical records related to the death should be preserved.
  • Surveillance footage should be sought.
  • The circumstances leading up to the death should be determined.
  • An experienced personal injury attorney should be contacted.

The vast majority of deaths during physical education classes are preventable and involve some amount of negligence. In many cases, they involve well-meaning teachers who are poorly trained and push students far too hard, especially during the summer months. Students are much more likely to collapse and suffer serious health issues if they are exercising during periods when it is very hot outside. The family of any student who died during a PE course may be able to seek some measure of justice through a civil claim.

Investigating Deaths During High School PE Classes

We at the Carrillo Law Firm, LLP extend our deepest condolences to the family of Sophie. This was a tragedy that should never have taken place. Any person with more information should reach out to the police. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what went wrong for the sake of the victim and her family.

Do you need more information about any incidents at Brawley Union High School? Our team of school safety advocates is here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that students and their families are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident, we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 626-799-9375.

Author

MICHAEL S. CARRILLO, Partner

Michael works on high-profile cases that have garnered national media attention. His practice today focuses on child sexual abuse cases, police misconduct cases, catastrophic injuries and other wrongful death matters. He is a passionate advocate for his clients including the countless child sexual abuse victims he currently represents.