Teen Dies After Seizure And Restraint
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 28, 2003
PORTAGE, MICHIGAN--Detectives and family members of Michael Renner-Lewis III are trying to figure out what happened to the 15-year-old who died Monday at Parchment High School after being restrained by four staff members.
Around 1:00 school officials contacted Michael's mother, Elizabeth Johnson, to tell her that her son had experienced a seizure at some point in the morning, but that he appeared to be recovering well. Johnson telephoned a back-up caregiver to go to the school to pick up Michael, who also had autism.
The teen's father, Michael Renner-Lewis Jr, said that when the caregiver arrived at the school she found Michael unconscious, lying on his stomach with his hands behind his back. The woman said she immediately started CPR. Parchment Police Chief William Bongers, responding to a 911 call, arrived at 1:57 and started using a portable heart defibrillator to try to resuscitate the teen.
Michael was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
An investigation has been launched into what happened between the time of Michael's seizure and when Bongers arrived on the scene.
According to a preliminary police report, Michael seemed to have recovered from the seizure, but later the 6 foot tall 200 pound teen "became combative" and apparently struck out at others.
Four staff members "tried to quiet Michael", each grabbing one of his limbs and sitting down on the floor next to him in a room behind the school auditorium, police said.
Michael soon appeared calm -- too calm. One of the aides noticed that Michael had closed his eyes.
It is not clear what took place next.
"I want to find out what happened," said Michael's father. "From when the incident happened to when the emergency (staff) arrived, that is the period for when I want to know what happened."
An initial autopsy report showed "no obvious anatomical causes" of death. Investigators are waiting for the results of toxicology tests.