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Lawsuit filed after death of Lexington high school athlete

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) - The mother of a high school athlete who died after collapsing at Dunbar High School in April has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against trainers, coaches, the athletic director, the principal, & the Fayette County Public School's superintendent.

15-year-old Star Ifeacho was a sophomore at Dunbar High School and played on the basketball team. He died back in April after passing out in the locker room after participating in an open gym at Dunbar.

The lawsuit on behalf of Star's mother, Peace Ifeacho, states officials were "gross, reckless and negligent" in getting the teen the "prompt and necessary medical care" he needed when he suffered a medical emergency.

"The condition that caused Star to collapse was a completely survivable condition had the AED been implemented, and this was a tragedy that did not need to occur," said Ifeacho family attorney Sheila Hiestand.

The lawsuit states that Star called his mother at 4:19 p.m. on April 26 asking her to come get him from practice after he complained to an assistant coach of being "light-headed, having trouble breathing, and that his heart was racing." Peace Ifeacho says that when she arrived at the back door of the gym at 4:37 p.m., two students informed her that Star had passed out in the training room. Peace Ifeacho stated that EMS was not present when she arrived and that the AED was not in the training room or in use when she came. According to the lawsuit, the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) that was supposed to be in the athletic training room had been previously removed by one of the trainers and taken to the baseball field.

Dr. Hal Skinner is a cardiologist at Baptist Health Lexington.

"Once the heart stops pumping blood bad things happen, and the longer it goes on, the less chance of survival," Skinner said.

He says the AED is a way to restore the normal rhythm to the heart electrically.

"You shock them right away, within a minute or two, they are almost always going to come back to normal. But you wait 10, 15, 20 minutes; there's a good chance you can't restore the rhythm. So time is of the essence when your heart is not pumping blood," he described.

Attorneys for Ifeacho state in the documents that video surveillance shows Star leave the game he was playing on the court shortly after 4:24 to walk to the training room. Attorneys say he described the same physical complaints to the athletic trainer that he complained about earlier to a coach. The video goes on to show an assistant coach running to the training room at approximately 4:36 p.m. and Star's mother arriving a short time later. Attorneys say at 4:40, the video shows two students run from the training room to the front of the school before returning to the gym. The same students then ran toward the foyer at approximately 4:43 before returning to the gym with what appears to be an AED.

"He sent them on a wild goose chase trying to find the other AED that was available in the school again in violation of the protocols," claimed Hiestand. "There was another AED available adjacent to the gym in the front entryway..that was not requested by the trainer until after several minutes. The school zone protocols require that the AED be able to be used within 3 minutes of the time of collapse."

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