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Infant dies after incident at school

October 5, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - An infant died Thursday at Nathan Littauer Hospital after experiencing difficulty breathing at Warren Street Elementary School, where the child's parents were picking up a sibling.

Greater Johnstown School District Superintendent Robert DeLilli said the baby had a medical problem in the school parking lot before being rushed inside to be worked on by school and ambulance personnel. The baby then was taken to the hospital.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time," DeLilli said.

He said a statement about the incident would be sent home to district parents later today.

The superintendent said the incident occurred about 1:30 p.m.

He said a mother and father - whose names he declined to release - were at the school at the time to sign out their fourth-grade child.

DeLilli said the father was inside the school getting the older child and the mother was inside the vehicle with the infant, who began to have a medical problem. At some point, he said, the school nurse was told to come out to the vehicle to check on the infant.

"When the nurse went out, the mother was holding the child," he said. "Upon observation, the child was struggling with breath."

DeLilli said 911 was called immediately and the infant was taken immediately inside to the school's main office. He said personnel from the Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps arrived shortly thereafter and the emergency responders took over, trying to resuscitate the child before rushing the baby to the hospital.

"The school was called later in the afternoon and was told the child had passed away," DeLilli said.

He said he didn't know the exact medical problem the child experienced.

DeLilli said the emergency occurred in the early afternoon and "all the students were in their classrooms."

He said the school didn't go into lock-down mode, but Principal Scott Ziomek made an announcement while the infant was getting medical attention that everyone was to stay in the classrooms.

DeLilli said the district this morning had a "crisis team" assembled at the school to deal with any emotional distress from the incident. He said the team was from another district building and was made up of staff and the school district psychologist.

District Board of Education President Paul VanDenburgh today said that "with all respect," he would have no comment.

City police Chief Mark Gifford didn't return a phone call this morning about whether his officers were called to the incident.

The city Fire Department didn't respond, Chief Bruce Heberer said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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