Thursday, August 12, 2004

Family sues over
sports death

HILO >> A Big Island family is suing the state Department of Education and Hawaii County, alleging that officials did not act soon enough to administer first aid to a 16-year-old basketball player who collapsed and died after a practice in December.

Relatives of Austin Meyers contend Keaau High School did not have a qualified athletic trainer on staff and that two coaches did not immediately provide first aid or call 911 after the player collapsed and went into a seizure following a two-hour practice.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Hilo Circuit Court, also alleges that treatment for Meyers was delayed because campus security gates hindered paramedics. It also contends paramedics' equipment malfunctioned and they were carrying an empty oxygen tank, further delaying treatment for Meyers.

Sandy Goya, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, declined comment Tuesday, saying officials had not yet seen the lawsuit.

Hawaii County Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida said Tuesday he also had not seen the lawsuit.

"I was not aware of these allegations, but as soon as we're served with the complaint, we'll discuss it with the fire chief and answer accordingly," Ashida said.

Meyers, who was a junior on the varsity basketball team, went into cardiac arrest after the Dec. 23 practice and was pronounced dead later at Hilo Medical Center.

"Panic broke out amongst the team and the coaches, but an emergency 911 call was not immediately made," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also alleges that head coach Wade Ishibashi Sr. and assistant Awe Justo, who are not named as defendants, did not have an emergency response plan as required by the school's coaches' handbook.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Meyers' parents, Sue and Arthur Meyers, and two brothers, seeks unspecified damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering and attorney's fees.

"We're suing because we don't want this to happen to any other child," Sue Meyers said.



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