Del Mar High School’s principal Liz Seabury is under fire for her decision to block an ambulance from driving onto the school’s football field and track to reach a 14-year-old who suffered a concussion during a football game.
According to reports Seabury required emergency workers had to haul a gurney 75 yards downfield to where Keanu Gallardo lay after suffering a blow to his neck and head near the end of Del Mar‘s game on Oct. 29.
The boy’s mother, Josephine Amaya, is waiting for a formal apology from the school and the Campbell Union High School District. She said her son has suffered from headaches and neck pain and is being watched for potential brain damage.
Every second counts when a player, especially a teenager, is crumpled on the field with a head injury. It is not clear if the delay in this case caused any additional images to the player.
Matthew Dean, a Campbell Union High School board member was quoted as saying “I’m aghast at the decision that was made. The answer is real simple. A field is replaceable. A child’s life is not.”
According to Seabury her orders were not to allow any vehicles onto the field.
When asked about the incident Monday, district Superintendent Rhonda Farber initially denied that the ambulance was blocked from entering the sunken field. Her spokesman, Terry Peluso, later blamed Seabury, a new principal. He said the district banned motorized vehicles when the field was remodeled four years ago, however he claims that ban was not intended to cover emergency vehicles.
The Del Mar Dons were trailing Prospect 20-6 with minutes to go. Keanu had ran 10 yards when another player’s helmet struck him in the neck. As he went down, he was hit again, this time in the head. According to witnesses his helmet did not come off.
In a statement Keanu said “Last I remember, I was getting the ball then starting to run, … I don’t remember getting hit. I don’t remember getting up.”
He walked to the sidelines with assistance, where coach Darnell Avery recognized a problem and took him out of the game. The Dons’ athletic trainer stabilized his neck and called 911. His report listed a possible fracture and “tingling of hands.” When paramedics from the fire department arrived, they parked at a gate and ran onto the field to treat Keanu. They reported him awake and able to move his body.
When the ambulance arrived at the other side of the field Seabury blocked it from entering the. Seabury told them “heavy equipment” was not allowed on the track or field. Thus, requiring the ambulance paramedics to unload and haul the gurney 75 yards to reach Keanu as he lay waiting for help.
A report by the San Jose Fire Department confirmed that Seabury stopped the ambulance after an off-duty police officer directed the driver toward Keanu.
Seabury said Monday there was a 20-minute delay in picking up Keanu but said that was because the ambulance didn’t arrive immediately.
Parent Renee Figueira said paramedics attending to Keanu were “clearly agitated and angry” about the delay.
Amaya said she’s not complaining about the injury to her 132-pound son: “It’s our responsibility. That’s what happens in football.” But she’s upset about the district response and wants the principal reprimanded and the district to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Figueira, whose freshman daughter plays field hockey, agreed. “I’m pretty sure all the parents who sign the waiver to play sports do not know that their child can be denied timely medical attention.”