A 12-year-old Trails Carolina camper died of suffocation, according to the report

A recently published autopsy report states that the 12-year-old kid who died in February at a wilderness treatment camp in western North Carolina was suffocated and that his death was a homicide.

The report stated that the child, who had only arrived the day before at the Trails Carolina camp in Lake Toxaway, was sleeping in a cabin inside a bivy, a one-person nylon tent.

The autopsy report, which was made public on Monday, makes no mention of anyone attempting to kill the boy on purpose. However, it implies that when they placed him in the bivy, camp workers neglected to make sure he would have enough oxygen.

According to the claims, the boy’s bivy was ripped, revealing a weather-resistant door that was used to seal the breach.

The research mentions that a typical caution on commercially available bivy items advises against completely securing the outer, weather-resistant aperture since it can cause moisture and breathing obstruction.

According to the postmortem, staff staffers “fully secured” the bivy so the youngster could not escape without raising a commotion.

An inquiry for comment from Trails Carolina was not immediately answered by a representative.

As per the inspection report released by the state Department of Health and Human Services in April, camp staff were mandated to verify if children were breathing at 12 a.m., 3 a.m., and 6 a.m.

According to the state report, camp personnel claimed to have heard the boy’s tent breathing loudly about 3 a.m. then more subtly around 6 a.m. on the night of February 3. At 7:45 a.m., the boy was discovered cold and lifeless.

The postmortem report notes that “routine checks were performed throughout the night, but he could not be visualized due to the outer, opaque layer of the bivy being closed.”

According to the DHHS report, a camp employee admitted to state investigators, “I didn’t check as thoroughly as I should have.” “I failed to fulfill my responsibility of performing night checks that evening, which is what I did. I believe that the bivy played a significant role in it.

An autopsy revealed no other injuries.

The boy’s system contained no harmful drugs, and the autopsy revealed no signs of trauma.

However, the autopsy report noted that when his body was discovered, it was “oriented opposite to the intended use which would have allowed the waterproof material to fall onto his head and face.”

The autopsy says that the youngster could not have opened the bivy’s outer, waterproof opening because it was properly secured. An auditory alert was included to keep people from escaping.

The autopsy reported, “He was not able to reasonably remove himself from the situation with the alarm securing the opening. He was placed into this compromised sleeping area by other(s).”

Staff members informed state investigators that campers may experience claustrophobia when sleeping in the bivy tents. One camper reported that when sleeping in one, it was challenging to receive assistance.

About 140 miles west of Charlotte, Trails Carolina claims to have been formed in 2008, mostly on the theory that therapy effects are amplified in a forest environment. Its therapists visited with the youngsters once a week, and it took kids, ages 10 to 17, on wilderness adventures.

The 12-year-old wasn’t the first student to pass away while enrolled in the school. In November 2014, Alec Sanford Lansing, then 17 years old, fled the program and succumbed to hypothermia.

The state concluded that the removal of all children from the camp was necessary to guarantee their safety and health, so it did so in the middle of February.

Also, Trails Carolina was notified by DHHS on May 17 that the program’s license was being revoked. From that day on, the program had sixty days to challenge the ruling.


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