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Boy’s Death Triggers Push For Coaches To Be CPR Certified

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Richmond, VA--David Deans, a vibrant 17-year-old boy, was not just your average teenager.

The Highland Springs High School junior excelled in school, loved his family and was a sports fanatic. 

"He was loved by everyone who he came in contact with," said Kimberly Hall-Deans, David's mother.

He played baseball and soccer, and he swam on the swim team.

"He was kind hearted; he always tried to help any way he could," said Hall-Deans.

Four months ago, as a member of the Richmond Metropolitan Baseball League, David traveled with his team to Florida. It was the annual All Star Tournament, and it was David's time to shine.

"I kissed him, told him I loved him, made sure that he had everything, made sure that he had eaten, and he left to go on his trip," said said Hall-Deans.

The next day, David's parents received a phone call saying their 6'4'' muscular son had collapsed on the field during his game. David was rushed to the hospital, while his parents anxiously awaited updates.

"Next thing I know, I get the worst call of my life saying my son is not here anymore—he's died," said David Deans, David's father.

Since that tragic day, David's parents have been trying to piece together exactly what happened. They're waiting on an autopsy to find out what caused his death, and they have one big question—was CPR performed on their son?

"I want to know exactly what happened—were there any CPR performed on him?" asked Hall-Deans.

Other team members say no.

Lenora Gaither's son, who played on David's team, was at the game and says the coaches didn't know how to perform CPR.

"To be a coach, that should be one of the criteria they must meet," said Lenora Gaither, whose son played on the team. "No sidetracking on that at all…if your head coach can't get it, guess what, he's out of a job—plain and simple."

David's parents say they strongly believe CPR would have made a difference in their son's death.

His parents are now calling on local leagues, school boards, lawmakers and parents to make life-saving changes in youth athletics.

"I want to make sure that any sporting event that organizations put in place certified CPR coaches and making sure that there's portable defibrillators on site," Gaither told us.

8News contacted the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League to see his coaches are CPR certified, and to hear the league's side of what happened that day.

In statement, the executive director says: "I respectfully decline [to comment] pending the final outcome of the investigation into the tragic death of one of MJBL's beloved players and MJBL Board's definitive review of game safety procedures."

David's parents are now on a mission to get every coach in Central Virginia CPR certified, and they have a plea for parents of young athletes.

"Ask one question: ‘Is there somebody CPR certified, and the second question ‘do you have a plan in action if something similar to my son's situation were to arrive'," said Hall-Deans.

8News wanted to know if your child's school coach is required to be CPR certified.

In Chesterfield County, the answer is no. A spokesman tells 8News athletic trainers, who are CPS certified, attend events, but coaches aren't required to know the skill.

The same is true in Henrico County Public Schools—some coaches are certified, but it's not a requirement. A spokesman says certified trainers attend most high school events and rescue squads are at most varsity football games.

It's the same way in Richmond too. A spokesperson tells 8News certified trainers with Bon Secours are at every high school game and rescue squads are normally onsite, but once again, coaches don't have to be certified.

Richmond School Board member Kim Gray says that's ridiculous. She believes every coach in Virginia should be CPR certified.

"I think it's a critical need, not only with our coaches our bus drivers and our teachers," said Kim Gray, a Richmond City School Board member. "We need to have people on hand who know what to do in an emergency situation."

David's parents say they'll continue to fight for CPR certified coaches until it's a requirement across the board.

And while they'll never get their son back, they hope lessons learned through his life and death will save someone else.

8News contacted multiple local leagues about their CPR policies. Most do not require coaches to be certified. Many are non-profit groups, and they don't have the funding to pay for the certification.

The Richmond Ambulance Authority is working with many of those leagues to provide CPR training.

In the past, training has included mouth to mouth and chest compressions, but recently, that's changed.  Research has found that simply doing those chest compressions without mouth can be just as effective.

"He died doing exactly what he loved; he died playing baseball," says David's mother.

To learn how to do basic CPR techniques that could save your loved one in case of an emergency, click HERE.


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