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Questions still exist in gym mat death of Georgia teenager

Although a year has lapsed since the death of a 17-year-old student, the boy's parents continue to seek answers. The death, classified as an accident, was discovered Jan. 11, 2013, as students completed a survey in their school's gym. The boy's body was discovered in the center hole of a gym mat when his feet were noticed. A teacher indicated in a statement that he grabbed one of the boy's ankles in hope of a response but that the boy was lifeless. While the death has been determined by authorities to be accidental, the boy's family believes that it is a case of wrongful death.

Issues cited by the family attorney include the poor quality of the surveillance video in the gym. While officials indicate that the blurry images are due to misalignment from a basketball hitting the camera, family members suspect that video has been altered. The youth is seen entering the gym, but not leaving.

Additionally, the family points to a paramedic report indicating bruising near the youth's right jaw, a detail lacking in autopsy records. The boy's parents were able to get a court order allowing for the body to be exhumed and enlisted a private pathologist to conduct another autopsy. This doctor's report indicated hemorrhaging beneath the skin of the youth's neck and jaw. The doctor's conclusion was that a fatal blow was sustained and that the blow appeared not to be accidental. Investigators' delay of several hours in calling the coroner after discovery of the body is also a concern to the family.

In cases involving an unusual death, a family may find that it is difficult to discern which details are significant in evaluating the circumstances and potential for foul play or a cover-up. It may be helpful to work with a legal professional to further investigate the circumstances in such a case.

Source: The Marietta Daily Journal, "Ga. teen’s gym mat death still is questioned", Russ Bynum, January 05, 2014

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