A gym teacher whose student “dry drowned” more than an hour after inhaling water is not responsible for his death, the Third Circuit ruled Tuesday.
Juanya Spady died on Jan. 2, 2010, after a group of students at Liberty High School in Bethlehem, PA dunked the 10th grader in the pool during physical-education class.
Gym teacher Carlton Rodgers allowed Spady to rest on the bleachers after the incident, but then ordered him back in the pool for the rest of the class, despite Spady complaining of chest pain.
Spady went to English class without complaint. About an hour into class, though, he had a seizure – the teacher observed “labored breath, general unresponsiveness, and a pink, frothy fluid escaping from Juanya’s nose and mouth.” The teen was taken to a nearby hospital
and died later that day.
Spady’s mother, Mica, later sued the school district and Rodgers, submitting a medical report that attributes Spady’s death to a rare condition called “dry drowning” or “secondary drowning,” which occurs when water is inhaled and only later causes the vocal chords to spasm and block airways, or leaks into the lungs.