News 12 at 11 / Friday, December 12, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It was a battle against time the day Josey High School student Recardell Sheppard collapsed in the school gym. Tonight, we know how things unfolded minute by minute.
Earlier this week, an autopsy revealed the 17-year-old they called CJ died of natural causes. Just today, the Richmond County Board of Education Public Safety Department released the findings of their investigation and it includes a timeline that's based on video surveillance of the gym. It covers everything from who was in the gym at the time and their response, to what health care workers did to try to keep CJ alive. The timeline describes the following.
It's 3:24 on Monday, October 13, 2014. A pickup basketball game begins in the Josey gym. Most students had been at cross country practice just before, but not Recardell Sheppard. That day, he skipped practice for something more important, an ACT prep exam.
"The student had been testing, and after testing he went over to the gym to play some basketball with other students," Richmond County Board of Education Public Safety Chief Alfonzo Williams said.
At 4:19 p.m., Recardell, or CJ to his friends, walks in the gym. It's only a couple minutes before he starts shooting baskets with other students on the court. It's a normal game of basketball until 4:54 p.m. That's the first time the report says CJ bends over then stands back up and continues playing.
Over the next two minutes, he bends over four more times. Five o'clock sharp, CJ walks off the court and sits on the bleachers.
"Almost immediately after he sat down on the bench, he started to have the crises," Chief Williams said.
Seconds later, the coach, who had been in the gym at the time, walks over to CJ and asks if he's OK. CJ doesn't respond. Instead, he starts seizing and foaming at the mouth.
"The ambulance service was notified immediately," Chief Williams said.
A copy of the Dispatch call says, "Gonna be T.W. Josey at th eold gy m in reference to an unfresponsive patient. Respond on EMS Tach, EMS Tach."
Twelve minutes later at 5:13 p.m., EMS arrives and starts CPR. At 5:25 p.m., he's loaded in the ambulance and taken to GRU. An hour later at 6:33 p.m., CJ died.
"You don't expect young kids to die such traumatic deaths," Chief Williams said.
An autopsy ruled the teenager died of natural causes, but friends and family will always wonder why.
"I think everybody did everything they could to try and help Recardell," Chief Williams said. "We're just so sorry it happened, and our hearts go out to the family."
The report says CJ seemed completely healthy and was cleared to play sports. His las tphysical was August of this year. The coach was also up to date on his CPR and AED training.
The report does not mention anybody in the gym doing CPR before the ambulance crew gets there, but it does describe the coach on the phone taking directions from a dispatcher to turn CJ on his side.
Investigators noted the school does have an Automated External Defibrillator on campus, but it was in the nurses office at the time.