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‘He Said He Couldn’t Breathe’: Family Says Gym Teacher Made California 12-Year-Old Who Later Died Run During Heatwave In Street Clothes; District Denies Claims

A California family is mourning after the death of a 12-year-old middle school student. The young boy lost his life, collapsing in gym class during a heatwave.

Loved ones say he was not dressed appropriately to participate in the class assignments, and the teacher should have used better judgment — that possibly could have saved his life.

Yahshua Robinson, a student at the Canyon Lake Middle School in Lake Elsinore, died on Tuesday, Aug. 29, after being instructed to run in his street clothes outside on a day when the temperature in the Southern California city reached about 107 degrees.

Family Says Gym Teacher Made California 12-Year-Old Who Later Died Run During Heatwave In Street Clothes
Yahshua Robinson, 12, collapsed on Aug. 29, 2023. (Photo: KTLA 5/YouTube screenshot)

According to the family, he was not told to run as a class assignment but as a punishment for not being prepared for the physical education period.

Relatives say the teacher ignored Yahshua’s cries for help after he started feeling sick.

“He was reaching out to the teacher, saying he needed some water. He said he couldn’t breathe. He was telling the kids this,” Amarna Plummer said to NBC 4 Los Angeles.” Why would you have a child in his clothes — he didn’t dress out — running a field?”

The Lake Elsinore Unified School District initially released a statement regarding his death, saying it was “saddened” to report Yahshua lost his life “due to a medical emergency at one of our LEUSD campuses.”

However, in a Sept. 7 statement, the district officials said they wanted to clarify “misinformation circulating” about the student’s death “while remaining sensitive to the family and their need for as much respect and privacy as possible.”

“At this time, we can confirm that the students in the PE class were participating in routine activities outdoors. Students were dressed in PE attire, and at no time were students penalized by running for not being dressed out for PE,” the statement explained. “All students in class participated in a warm-up run that lasted approximately less than 1 minute, and no one was denied water. When our student showed signs of physical distress, staff took prompt action to attend to the student and called emergency services.”

The district said the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the tween’s death.

Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reported responding to a call from the school about a student in need of medical care, arriving at the campus around 11 a.m.

Once they arrived, emergency workers took the child to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. The family says he died of cardiac arrest.

The aunt says that her sister-in-law, Yahshua’s mother, Janee Robinson, works as a gym teacher at another school in the district and alerted the administration about the sweltering heat and how dangerous it would be for children to work outdoors.

“She informs the administration, ‘Do not let any children go out today for P.E.’ And what happened? She gets a call he passed out on the field,” Plummer said.

The family said in a GoFundMe campaign that there is a profound “void” left in the family after Yahshua’s premature demise.

“The agony of losing a child is indescribable, and as we wait with heavy hearts for the autopsy results, we are reminded of the unpredictability of life,” Plummer wrote.

Read the full story on Atlanta Black Star.

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