The teen who collapsed during conditioning drills at a Jonesboro, Georgia, high school Tuesday has been publicly identified.
Imani Bell was 16 years old, and her family said she adored basketball and was set to earn her high school diploma in 2021.
“She was a great kid, no problems, no issues, never got in trouble,” family spokesperson Justin Miller told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of Imani, who was on the girls’ varsity basketball team. “It’s a big loss.”
Miller, whom Fox 5 identified as also being Imani’s mother’s cousin, explained Bell had been running up stadium steps at Elite Scholars Academy when she collapsed Tuesday. He said the family wondered why the teen was outside on such a hot day.
“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,” Miller, who said Imani was “a classic ‘good girl'” and a 4.0 student, told the TV news station Wednesday. “We feel like coaches and athletic directors should be cognizant of how hot it is. These are students, not world class athletes.”
“My baby is gone,” Imani’s father told WSB-TV in a phone call that day.
Temperatures reportedly reached nearly 100 degrees Tuesday, and the National Weather Service issued a Heat Advisory for what had been the second day in a row August 13, the day Imani died.
The Clayton County Fire Department responded to a distress call about the teen at 5:52 p.m., Battalion Chief Laura Richardson told the AJC. The young student-athlete was found inside the school.
“Our firefighters found her unresponsive and began treatment,” Richardson said. “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.
“Unfortunately she did eventually pass away. We are so sorry for her family’s loss and the pain each one of her classmates are feeling,” Richardson added.
An autopsy is scheduled to be completed Thursday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, spokesperson Nelly Miles told Clayton News-Daily. She added it can take several weeks for autopsy results to become known.
Clayton schools Superintendent Morcease Beasley addressed Bell’s passing in a statement saying, “We are very saddened by the loss of one of our students this evening. The school district is here to support the family of the student and all staff and student body.”
He noted that a crisis team and grief counselors are on hand for students, teachers and staff.
District spokesperson Ronald Jones-Shields told The Associated Press there would be no more comment on the matter, as an active investigation is ongoing.
All outdoor activities were canceled on Wednesday because of Imani’s death and the continued heat advisory, 11 Alive reported.
According to the Georgia High School Association’s practice policies for heat and humidity, “a scientifically-approved instrument that measures the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature must be utilized at each practice to ensure” the policy is properly followed. It notes that the readings “should be taken every hour, beginning 30 minutes before the beginning of practice.”
A WBGT reading is “a composite temperature used to estimate the effect of air temperature, humidity, and solar radiation on the human body,” according to the GHSA. The reading is expressed as degrees but does not equate to temperature in the air.
If a WBGT reading reaches above 92, the GHSA states no outdoor activities should occur and practice should be delayed until a cooler WBGT level is reached. The association describes a 92 reading as “somewhat comparable to a Heat Index reading of 104-105 degrees.”
Whether or not these guidelines were followed to the day of Imani’s death is unclear.