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16-Year-Old Student Dies of Cardiac Arrest During Drill, the Outside Temp At 100 Degrees

By Victor Westerkamp

A 16-year-old Georgia girl collapsed and died Tuesday while running up stadium steps as part of an outdoor conditioning drill on the hottest day Atlanta has seen for three years.

Imani Bell an 11th-grader of the Elite Scholars Academy of Jonesboro in Clayton County was running a one-mile uphill track as part of conditioning drills for the school’s basketball team. She suddenly collapsed, at around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, AJC reported.

The Clayton County Fire & Emergency Services released a statement about her death on Wed 16:

“Thank you for your inquiry about the devastating call that CCFES responded to yesterday. I was able to retrieve more information about this call and wanted to provide you all with an update. On 8/13/19 at 5:52 pm, we were dispatched to an Elite Scholars Academy in Jonesboro. When our firefighters arrived, they found a 16-year-old female found inside the school. Our firefighters found her unresponsive and began treatment. During transport to the hospital, the patient became pulseless and stopped breathing. Firefighters administered CPR, began Advanced Cardiac Life Support and transported her to Southern Regional Medical Center. The patient did regain a pulse during transport and was transferred to Southern Regional Medical Center staff. Unfortunately, she did eventually pass away. We are so sorry for her family’s loss, and the pain each one of her classmates is feeling. Please let us know if you have any further questions.”

Immediately after the tragic accident, parents and family members raised questions about why the school board let the students condition in such extreme heat.

The constitution and bylaws of the Georgia High School Association have it that outdoor workouts are prohibited at a wet bulb globe temperature above 92 degrees. Athletes need to take a 20-minute break each hour at least, and hydrate frequently. Temperatures reached the 100s that day, AJC reported.

Tom Jones Action News had an interview with Bell’s father, who said there’s still a lot of information missing, for instance—how it is possible to have students work out in such an extensive heat without proper rest and rehydration. “I lost my baby,” he said,

“This could have been prevented, and it gives us cause for concern that the basketball team would be doing outdoor conditioning on the track on the hottest day of the year. We feel like coaches, and athletic directors should be cognizant of how hot it is. These are students, not world-class athletes,” said Justin Miller, a relative of Imani’s, Fox 5 reported.

According to the outlet, the students had to run one mile uphill and were not allowed to rest, while no sufficient water was provided.

Superintendent Morcease Beasley said in a statement: “Their loss is our loss. It broke his heart to see Imani’s parents, grandparents, and siblings grieving. There really are no…words for what I saw last night at the hospital. We’re going to investigate what happened and do whatever it takes to make sure the safety of our students is a top priority,” Dr. Beasley told FOX 5 News Wednesday morning.

The County Sheriff’s Offices have called in the help of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who are currently looking into the circumstances that may have lead to the tragic death of the young aspiring athlete. Until they’ve reached any conclusions no one is making any statements publicly.

An autopsy on Bell’s body started today on August 15, but it will take at least two weeks before the results will be made public.