The mother of a college student who died of an asthma attack sued the Yucaipa-Calimesa School District, alleging the district failed to follow its own policies and protocols, resulting in her daughter’s death.
Adilene Carrasco was a 13-year-old student at Mesa View Middle School in Calimesa. She had a history of asthma attacks, which was noted on her student profile home screen in Aeries’ online student database, according to the lawsuit.
“If Adilene’s teacher had reviewed Adilene’s student profile at the start of the semester as she was supposed to, she would have seen the red flag that Adilene had asthma,” the lawsuit states in part. .
Adilene’s mother, Edith Sepulveda, is represented by Los Angeles-based law firm Panish, Shea, Boyle and Ravipudi and Pasadena-based law firm Claypool.
Neither the Yuciapa-Calimesa Unified School District, its law firm, nor science teacher Fontayne Clark responded to requests for comment by the end of Friday, Aug. 26.
According to the lawsuit, on October 31, 2019, Adilene’s last lesson of the day was science. The students had designed devices to throw pumpkins into a field about 366 yards from Clark’s classroom. As the students approached the pitch, Adilene began to have difficulty breathing. Clark told Adilene she could go back to class and pick up her inhaler, depending on the suit.
Adliene and a classmate returned to the classroom and retrieved the inhaler. The lawsuit says the classmate testified that the inhaler did not help Adilene feel better. The girls would then return to the field and Adilene would ask if she could go to the nurse’s office.
“At this point, (the classmate) testified that Adilene was unable to sit up straight and her voice was shaky and hissing. Despite Adilene’s obvious worsening condition, Mrs. Clark sent Adilene and (the classmate) up the hill,” the lawsuit read in part.
According to the suit, (the classmate) testified that she began to panic as Adilene’s condition worsened.
“She was – well, at some point she couldn’t stand and had to be supported,” the lawsuit quoted the classmate as saying. “She was breathing really hard in a way, like, breathless, and her voice was kind of unclear, if that’s a good way to describe it. It wasn’t clear enough to understand what she was saying.
Eventually, a campus monitor spotted Adilene and her classmate and picked them up in her golf cart.
“She looked tired, and when she said she needed help, she…the words didn’t really come out. She just said it to her mouth,” the lawsuit quoted the Monitor as saying. “And when she got in the golf cart, she kind of collapsed on my chest.”
The school called 911 and the school nurse performed CPR on Adilene. Paramedics took an unconscious Adilene to San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital and she was later transferred to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. She died 10 days later on November 9, 2019.
According to the lawsuit, Clark failed to follow district medical protocols, which in part stated that students with “excessive injuries or unusual problems (broken bone, head injury, respiratory problem)” should be escorted by a adult up to the school nurse.
“Do NOT send students with a ‘buddy’ student,” the protocol reads in part, as cited in the lawsuit.
“The campus supervisor who spotted Adilene and (the classmate) when Adilene was about to collapse was already in a golf cart coming from the main office to pick up another student from the football field . The cart was there to be used for that purpose,” the lawsuit states in part. “Obviously, if Mrs. Clark had just called the trolley, Adilene could have been driven to the nurse’s office without adding any further physical strain to her already compromised condition by walking more than 360 meters in up to the office.”
The case is due for trial September 19 in San Bernardino Superior Court.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children, according to the World Health Organization, and killed around 455,000 people in 2019. About 16% of black children and 7% of white children suffer asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control. and prevention, and one in six children with asthma goes to the emergency room because of it each year, while about one in 20 is hospitalized because of it.
Adilene died about two years after another family of a Mesa View Middle School student filed a lawsuit against the Yucaipa-Calimesa District. In 2017, 13-year-old Rosalie Avila took her own life after being bullied by classmates. The district said that because the bullying happened online, it couldn’t do anything to stop it. The case was still pending as of Friday, August 26.