Connecticut Teachers Thought 5-Year-Old Was Playing Dead During Fatal Collapse: Lawsuit

The family of a 5-year-old who fatally collapsed at recess last year has sued a Connecticut town and its school board over the alleged wrongful death, claiming that teachers waited to provide aid after believing the boy was playing dead.

Filed Wednesday, court documents reportedly state that nearby teachers didn’t tend to Romeo Pierre Louis for nearly 10 minutes after he fell to the ground at Charter Oak International Academy in West Hartford on April 5, 2022.

It further claims that other students even notified teachers when Romeo collapsed, but that they didn’t respond because they thought he was participating in a recess game called “play dead.” A police report obtained by the Hartford Courant said that this was a frequent pastime for children at the school.

Two days after the incident, Romeo died of Brugada syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause arrhythmia, or an irregular heart rhythm. The state medical examiner said that the death was “natural,” according to the police report, which added that there would “be no further investigation.”

The lawsuit’s filing this week coincided with the one-year anniversary of Romeo’s collapse and saw his family hold a vigil outside Charter Oak International Academy.

Teachers allegedly didn't act for nearly 10 minutes after Romeo Pierre Louis fatally collapsed in 2022.
Teachers allegedly didn’t act for nearly 10 minutes after Romeo Pierre Louis fatally collapsed in 2022.

mrs via Getty Images

“Nothing will bring our son back,” said his mother, Chantel Pierre Louis. “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.”

Representatives for both West Hartford and its board of education stated they could not comment in detail due to pending litigation, but offered their condolences to Romeo’s family.

“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,” said Andy Morrow, the town’s acting superintendent of schools.

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