A FIVE-year-old boy with special needs died after choking on a nectarine at school after he was reportedly left alone in the classroom.
The tragedy happened while five-year-old Lucas Latouche Mazzei was watching cartoons in a classroom at Henley Beach Primary School in Adelaide.
An investigation into the incident concluded that the boy’s death could have been avoided had he not been left unattended.
The student was one of 350 students around the world who had a rare genetic condition called SSADH that caused developmental delays.
On the day of his death, in March 2017, the boy was not attending a science class over fears he might put objects in his mouth, an investigation has found.
Instead, he watched his favorite cartoon, The Gruffalo, supervised by his teacher, who briefly left the classroom, and an educational support worker.
The officer, who had limited vision, failed to notice that the boy was choking on a nectarine he found in the classroom.
Rescue workers rushed to the scene of the accident and desperately tried to help the boy, but could not save him.
Lucas was taken to the Women’s and Children’s Hospitalwhere he was pronounced dead.
SA Deputy Medical Examiner Ian White announced the results of the inquest on Friday.
He said the five-year-old’s death “could have been prevented” if staff had stayed in the classroom with him and blasted the school with those wordsYou need proper first aid training.
In court on Friday, the boy’s parents, Daniela Mazzei and Miguel Latouche, criticized the Ministry of Education for the way they handled their son’s death.
Daniela issued an emotional statement: “It was clear that the Department of Education did not want to know how a young boy died in their care.”
“They had no interest in learning from his death to ensure something like this never happens again.”
The mother added that the process of finding answers was “extremely hurtful and cruel”.
“[We] Ask the Department of Education to acknowledge that Lucas died because something went wrong in one of the special classrooms where he was left unsupervised.
The inquest found Lucas, who “always” required personal assistance and needed help with meals, was left alone for up to ten minutes.
Describing the boy’s death as “heartbreaking and tragic,” the coroner added, “Lucas’ parents were filled with grief at the death of their precious little son that day.”
A week after Lucas’ death, the school issued a newsletter stating the boy had died “of complications following an isolated medical incident related to his condition,” which White dismissed as incorrect.
The school placed a plaque outside the classroom without consulting the family.
White made a number of recommendations, including for educators to complete first aid training.
He also suggested that the Department of Education review its procedures and policies on school food storage.