Counselors Fired After Death at Ga. Camp

Associated Press/May 14, 2005
By Daniel E. Martin

Atlanta -- Five counselors at a state-run camp for troubled youngsters have been fired and a sixth resigned after a 13-year-old boy died while being restrained.

The counselors refused to give Travis Parker his asthma inhaler about an hour before he stopped breathing April 20 at the Appalachian Wilderness Camp in Cleveland, Ga., said Gwen Skinner, director of the state division that oversees the site.

In addition, some of the counselors refused to take a polygraph test, and children at the camp were not being fed at appropriate times, Skinner said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the boy's death. The autopsy results have not been released.

Skinner stopped short of saying whether the restraint used on the boy was inappropriate, but said counselors will be given more training on how to deal with unruly children. Officials have not said how the boy was restrained, but a report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week showed that he was held face down from behind. That type of restraint has been banned by one state department.

State records show that Travis was restrained for about 90 minutes by counselors who said he was acting belligerently, and during the first 10 or 15 minutes he asked for his inhaler.

However, counselors did not give him the inhaler because an emergency medical technician saw no indications such as wheezing that he was having an asthma attack and because the boy had a history of asking for his inhaler when he was being restrained, according to records from the Department of Human Resources, which runs the camp.

The boy went limp and died the next day at a hospital.

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