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Third-grader's death shocks Oak Ridge school

By Bob Fowler, The Knoxville News-Sentinel • Updated Nov 28, 2013 at 1:33 AM

OAK RIDGE (MCT) - When emergency personnel arrived within two minutes after receiving a call of an unresponsive third-grader on a school bus, the boy was in cardiac arrest, according to an Oak Ridge Fire Department report.

After CPR by the bus driver, instructed by a 911 dispatcher via cellphone, after advanced lifesaving efforts by a paramedics, one of whom is a nurse, the child was taken by ambulance to Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, where he was pronounced dead.

The child's name hasn't been released. His death sent shock waves through the community and the 494-student Linden Elementary School he attended, and where school staff converged Wednesday to offer grief counseling.

"It's a very tragic situation to have to cope with," Oak Ridge Fire Chief Darryl Kerley said.

The boy was discovered unresponsive on a school bus at his stop at the intersection of Wilberforce and Houston avenues shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday.

"The bus driver hollered for him to get off, and a student next to him said he was asleep," Oak Ridge School Board Chairman Keys Fillauer said he was told.

"We're waiting for the parents to release information," he said. "Out of respect for the family, we have to move cautiously."

Fillauer said it's uncertain whether an autopsy would be conducted. Kerley said that is normally standard procedure in a child's unexpected death unless there were pre-existing health problems.

Five counselors from the school district and the school psychologist who serves Linden were at the school Wednesday, Superintendent Bruce Borchers said. "They met with students who appeared upset or anxious," he said.

Students in the child's class were told of the incident and that "the firemen and paramedics did everything they could to help him," Borchers said, adding that counselors also checked on other third-graders in the school.

The superintendent said the school's PTO is forming a fund for donations to help the family handle expenses.

Kerley said firefighters and the bus driver underwent a stress debriefing session late Tuesday. He said that is standard procedures in incidents in which a child dies.

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