YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Authorities in Yonkers are investigating the death of a 16-year-old boy at a school for students with emotional and behavioral challenges.
Corey Foster died after going into cardiac arrest, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports. It happened at the Leake & Watts School around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports
The 16-year-old student, who lives at the facility, was playing basketball in the school gym when he became agitated, according to police.
The teen was then restrained by school staff, according to police, and while restrained, he passed out and went into cardiac arrest.
When police arrived, the teen was unresponsive and lying on the floor of the gym as a nurse and doctor at the school were performing CPR with Emergency Service Unit officers, police said.
The boy was taken to the hospital where he later died.
It’s unclear why he was placed in restraints, but in a statement, investigators say they “do not have any evidence to suggest that any mechanical restraints were used by school personnel at this time.”
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
Authorities say the boy was not restrained by police.
Thursday morning, fellow classmates said they were stunned and troubled over Foster’s death.
Those who knew the teen describe him as over 6-feet-tall and athletic.
“He was a good kid and stuff,” one student told Sandberg. “I don’t know if he had any heart problems, but it’s sad that it would happen to him.”
The school educates students with severe emotional, mental and academic disabilities and many students live on campus.
Meredith Barber, director of Institutional Advancement at the school, says staff are trained in therapeutic crisis intervention, a widely accepted protocol for handling physical and emotional outbursts.
In a statement about this incident, she says: “Many staff and residents were present at this recreational activity. As soon as there was any indication that the young man needed medical intervention, on campus medical personnel and 911 were summoned immediately.”
Student Michael Sylvester says students being restrained is common.
“They do it by the book, they’ll hold your arms and hold your legs,” he told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “They’ll hold you up but if you’re still struggling with them, they’ll put you on the floor.”
Another student, John Francis, didn’t witness the incident but says he’s been restrained by staff in the past and describes it as rough.
“They keep your head on the floor, put their knee on your neck and stuff. They just be on your body and stuff, can’t breathe,” he told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown. “One time when I was being restrained, I was in a choke hold for 30 minutes. I almost passed out.”
School administrators say his family has been notified and issued a statement saying: “We are very deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our hearts go out to the boy’s family.”
The school is cooperating with investigators.
Police say the entire incident was captured by security cameras and investigators spent the night interviewing witnesses and teachers.
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