Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Government to probe schoolboy's death

Published:Saturday | September 24, 2016 | 9:00 AMJovan Johnson
Tavares-Finson

The Government is to open a formal investigation into the death of high school footballer Dominic James.

Education and Youth Minister Ruel Reid told the Senate yesterday that the ministry is "interested" in finding out whether there were any breaches of safety guidelines for students involved in contact sports.

James, former captain of the St George's College Manning Cup team, died on Tuesday after collapsing on the Stadium East Field in Kingston during a match against Excelsior High.

There was no stretcher or ambulance at the match.

Opposition Senator Mark Golding questioned Reid about whether the Government intended to formally probe how James died to determine if anyone should be held accountable and how to address gaps in protocols.

"Is the ministry with responsibility for sports and education, whether individually or jointly, going to have an enquiry as to the extent these guidelines (safety manual for contact sports) were being complied with and, if not, what sanctions or other actions to hold people accountable? If the guidelines exist and we have a death of a fine young sportsman on the field of play and no one is held accountable, what signal does that send going forward as to the seriousness of the Government in ensuring compliance?" Golding questioned.

 

CAUTION TO GOLDING

 

Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson cautioned that he would intervene if Golding's query introduced a debate on who should be blamed for the death.

However, Golding rejected the comments, after which, Reid confirmed that the ministry would be investigating the circumstances of the 18-year-old's death.

"We are certainly interested in having an enquiry as to whether those guidelines were followed, particularly because all schools are required to report all critical incidents to the ministry," Reid said.

Meanwhile, the education and youth minister said an inter-ministerial task force is to be established to develop "crucial protocols and guidelines, training and capacity building, also fundamental regulation and the enforcement and mobilisation of resources" to protect students in sports.

That task force is to be convened by Sports Minister Olivia Grange.

Reid noted that the education ministry has had the safety manual for contact sports since 2008.

The Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association has been looking into the circumstances of the death, but that body is not a State entity.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com