Connecticut Teachers Ignored a Kindergartener Who Collapsed on Playground for 10 Minutes Because They Thought He Was Playing Dead. He Died 2 Days Later: ‘Could No Longer be Saved’

Parents of a 5-year-old boy who died two days after collapsing in his school’s yard, are suing the city of West Hartford, Connecticut because they believe his death was preventable.

The lawsuit, filed a year after he fell on school premises, alleges the recess duty teachers did not respond with urgency, denying the young boy medical attention that possibly could have saved his life.

5-Year-Old Dies on Playground
Romeo Pierre Louis’ family holds a vigil in his honor. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/Fox 61)

Wednesday, April 5, the date that D’Meza Shultz Pierre Louis and Chantel Pierre Louis filed their complaint against the town and the Board of Education, is significant to the small Connecticut family. Exactly one year prior, their son Romeo Pierre Louis collapsed while playing outside during break at Charter Oak International Academy in West Hartford, the CT Insider reports.

Two days after falling, the kindergartener would be dead.

According to the lawsuit, “Romeo was allowed to collapse and lay on the ground for nearly 10 minutes without any assistance or medical treatment — despite several teachers … being in close proximity.”

The complaint states some of the boy’s schoolmates told the supervising teachers about Romeo’s fall, which occurred around 10:45 a.m. However, the educators did not immediately respond to their reports.

The teachers admitted they were dismissive and took their time because students had a habit of playing dead. The school employees.

“By the time the teachers … realized that Romeo was not playing dead and needed emergency medical treatment — it was too late, and Romeo’s life could no longer be saved,” the lawsuit stated.

Thirty-five minutes after collapsing, the young boy was transported to the Connecticut Children’s Hospital. He would later die on April 7, 2022, due to heart complications, according to WFSB.

School security footage captured Romeo’s collapse. It also showed one teacher arriving at his side and checking the boy’s pulse before noticing he was no longer breathing.

After arriving on the scene, officers took statements from teachers and students. In the police incident report, a female teacher says the “students” said the boy was “acting strangely/playing funny/teasing.”

Officers said they spoke to students and were “advised that the child was found by other children.” The children admitted to also believing Romeo was “ pretending to sleep.” However, once they realized he was not, they alerted the teachers.

After reviewing the security footage, officers said, “The facts provided by all the children were consistent and did not differ in any material way.”

“All of the children stated that (Romeo) was running around playing freeze tag and then fell and stopped breathing,” according to the report. “None of the children mentioned anything about seeing him bump his head, ingest anything or say anything, which could lead to a possible indicator as to why (Romeo) collapsed. There were no signs of trauma, falling, or anything else, which would indicate what caused his eventual collapse.”

The Courant said the state medical examiner would later list Romeo’s official cause of death as “Cardiac Channelopathy, Brugada Syndrome (scn5a variant)” and stated the manner of death as “natural.” This report closed the case for the department.

The family accuses the teachers of not following the town’s policies and procedures regarding incidents that require “medical attention.” They believe if they had, Romeo would still be alive.

On the afternoon of the filing, the family joined friends for a silent vigil outside of Charter Oak International Academy. Dressed in all white, a symbolic gesture of Romeo’s purity, the group carried signs with Romeo’s face and sayings like “Pay Attention” and “Listen To Our Children.”

“We know that nothing will bring our son back. All we can do is keep his memory in our hearts and do what we can so this doesn’t happen to another child. Listen to our children,” said the child’s mother.

The boy’s older sister Taty Pierre Louis gave remarks, calling her brother her “mini-me.”

“He was very open, a very lovable little boy,” she said. “My family loves to say that he was our angel that came from Heaven because as much as he loved God and loved us…He will forever be deep in our hearts.”

During the vigil, the family showed a video where Romeo recited Bible scriptures and “The Lord’s Prayer” before capturing him being a kid — jumping and doing flips all over his house.

In addition to his family, the school community was also “deeply affected” by Romeo’s death, according to Interim Superintendent Andrew Morrow.

“The death of a child is a devastating and unimaginable loss, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Romeo Pierre Louis,” Morrow said in a statement. “This tragedy has deeply affected the Charter Oak International Academy community, and the school district continues to make grief support and emotional assistance available to any student or educator who needs it.”

Lawyers for the city acknowledged the lawsuit but refused to comment on the pending lawsuit. Instead, Dallas Dodge, corporation counsel for the town, called the death a “tragedy” and extended “condolences to the family and friends of Romeo.”

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