Mom says son’s school death doesn’t add up

By Kate Dubinski, Norman De Bono, The London Free Press

Ryan Gibbons

Ryan Gibbons

The mother of a 12-year-old Aylmer boy who died at school says she’s “numb” with shock, but wants answers how her son died.

Sandra Gibbons wonders why her boy, Ryan, died from an apparent asthma attack when he had his puffer with him and she’d been told he used it in the school office before he collapsed.

“I am numb — it has not set in. It was so sudden, it is like a bad dream,” she said. “There is someting there in my heart that says this is not right, there are questions. It’s mother’s instinct.”

Ryan was a Grade 7 pupil at Straffordville public school. He went into medical distress during school recess Tuesday. He was taken to hospital in Tillsonburg, where life-saving efforts failed.

Gibbons said the details she’s received from the school don’t add up and she plans to ask for a full report. “I don’t get it, I just don’t get it. They said his puffer was in the office.”

Not able to play sports due to his asthma, Gibbons remembered her son as joker, who loved to play video games and dreamed of being a graphic artist for a gaming business. “He liked to make people laugh or raise an eyebrow. He was very computer-smart.”

Gibbons, 38, is from the Aylmer area and works in a doctor’s office in St. Thomas.

Ryan’s great-grandmother, Inis Gibbons, said the boy’s death came as “just a complete shock.”

The boy was his mother’s only child. He had a few close friends, including a cousin who was his best friend.

“One moment she called me to say he’s on life support and then a few minutes later she called to say I shouldn’t come down, that he was gone,” Inis Gibbons said of the boy’s mother.

She said he was “a serious kid, quiet and self-contained. He got on with adults and with kids — he was open-minded.”

He also loved gadgets. “You couldn’t keep him away from his electronics,” said Gibbons.

Principal Charlotte Wall echoed that sentiment in a prepared statement.

“Ryan was a fun, loveable boy who took joy in using all of the technology gadgets we had to offer at the school, from computers to iPods,” Wall said.

Staff and pupils at the school have created a memory wall, which they will eventually give to Ryan’s family.

Counsellors were at the school to support staff and pupils.

School officials said ambulance and police were immediately contacted when Ryan showed “signs of medical distress” during the first nutrition break of the day, similar to a first recess.

OPP responded as they normally would to a medical-distress call.

They concluded their investigation because foul play isn’t suspected.

Ryan’s funeral will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at the H.A. Kebbel Funeral Home in Aylmer.

The family held a visitation at the funeral home Thursday.

Condolences poured in on the funeral home’s website and on his mother’s Facebook page.

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