After a Frisco Child's Death, Her Family Wants Answers and Changes from Frisco ISD [Updated]

MeaghanLevy.jpg
No one -- not her teacher, not her mom, not the school nurse, not the paramedics -- could initially explain why Meaghan Levy, an otherwise healthy kindergartener at Frisco's Corbell Elementary, suddenly collapsed to the floor as her class walked to the library on the morning of December 12. She had no history of medical problems and no known allergies. The night before was normal -- a trip to the grocery store with her mom and siblings, a dinner of turkey tacos, a run-through of Finding Nemo before bed -- as was the morning. She was in good spirits when she was dropped off at school in her white shirt and jean jacket, and she was typically cheerful as her class set out for the library an hour-and-a-half later. When Fox 4 reported on the death the next week, they could say for certain only that Meaghan "became ill."

The actual cause of death was suggested by X-rays doctors at Children's Medical Center at Legacy as they frantically tried to save Meaghan's life, and confirmed a month later by the Collin County Medical Examiner: asphyxiation by pushpin.

For Meaghan's mother, Nicole Kennedy, and her aunt, Erika Kennedy, the past five months have eroded some of the initial shock of losing a child 11 days before her 6th birthday. But they've done little to ease their despair.

Though Frisco ISD and Frisco police have closed their respective investigations and ruled the death an accident, the Kennedy sisters have questions: Why didn't Meaghan's teacher have CPR training? Why did the oxygen bottle pumping air into her lungs while paramedics were en route malfunction, sending the school nurse to the hospital? Why were pushpins allowed within a kindergartener's reach in the first place?

In an emailed response to questions posed by Unfair Park, Frisco ISD spokeswoman Shana Wortham said no employees have been disciplined and no policy changes have been made in the wake of Meaghan's death. Teachers are still encouraged, but not required, to take CPR training as part of their professional development regimen, and no move has been made to bar pushpins from Frisco ISD kindergarten classes.

"The hearts of the staff and students at the campus and the District continue to go out to the family," Wortham wrote. "It was a tragic loss for all those who knew and loved her."

Tragic particularly because it was avoidable. Pushpin deaths seem to be relatively rare, but they're hardly unheard of. Within two months of each other in 2011, children in Louisville, Kentucky and Oceanside, California choked to death on pushpins, their plastic bases just the right size to lodge in a young child's trachea. Even when they're fully inhaled, they pose a painful challenge, the sharp point making them a nightmare to remove from the lungs.

Even after Meaghan began choking on the pushpin, there appears to be room for a quicker, more effective response. According to a Frisco PD incident report, the first indication that something was wrong came when Meaghan approached her teacher in the hallway with her hands to her throat, appearing as if she couldn't breath. (A video camera in the hallway captured Meaghan choking from afar, but does not show when or how she obtained the pushpin.)

The teacher's response was to lead the girl to the nurse's office, but Meaghan collapsed before they reached the door. Two parent volunteers happened to be standing nearby and helped carry Meaghan into the nurse's office, by which time her face was turning blue. One of the volunteers performed the Heimlich maneuver -- unsuccessfully, he told police. The nurse began CPR.

During the course of CPR, the nurse began to use one of the portable medical emergency oxygen units Frisco ISD provides at all its campuses. As she delivered the oxygen, the tank malfunctioned, spraying the nurse with a chemical -- a caustic substance similar to soda ash -- and sending her to the hospital.

Something similar happened in September when the school nurse at Frisco's Lone Star High School attempted to administer oxygen to a student. The tank exploded, according to media reports, spraying the nurse, a student, three firefighters and an assistant principal with the chemical and sending them to the hospital.

Wortham says the oxygen units are designed, manufactured and distributed by Frisco-based Oxysure.

"The portable oxygen is another tool available to our personnel to use in a medical situation until paramedics arrive," she writes. "The District usually also has AEDs at every facility."

Wortham did not address why the unit malfunctioned, when it was last inspected or whether the twin cases of malfunctioning oxygen tanks has prompted the district to enact any changes. She prefaced her responses with a note that "the District's comments are limited since we are unsure of legal action being considered."

Oxysure said in a statement that its product worked properly in Meaghan's case and in others.

"The cause of this tragedy appears to the be accidental swallowing of a pushpin and is unrelated to our product," the company said. "We are unclear as to why we are being brought into it."

FISD, the statement continues, "has hundreds of our units, and has successfully used the product in hundreds of saves since 2008."

The media reports last fall were inaccurate. The Oxysure unit is not a "tank" and is not "compressed." It's easy to confuse our product with traditional oxygen units, since that's closer to the public's frame of reference.

Our product is break-through, safe, accessible, life-safing technology and we work hard every day to re-frame the mindset around supplemental oxygen. Our job is to re-educate the public around this product since it's breakthrough technology.

Bottom line is, OxySure units contain inert powders that, when deployed, provide medically safe and pure oxygen. OxySure saves lives.

Frisco ISD would have been responsible for inspecting the units, the company said.

Paramedics arrived soon after the oxygen tank malfunctioned and took Meaghan to the hospital. After doctors discovered the pushpin, they decided she needed to be airlifted to the Children's Medical Center of Dallas. Before they could load her on the helicopter, however, her condition worsened.

"After several minutes of intense care," the police report says, "the lead doctor came into the hallway and notified the family that Meaghan had died."

It's not clear from the police report or autopsy that a properly functioning oxygen tank or a teacher trained to provide CPR would have saved Meaghan. But those are big "what ifs" -- too big, say the Kennedy sisters. They hope Meaghan's death can still prompt changes at Frisco ISD: a ban on pushpins; mandatory CPR training for teachers; a better system to ensure the emergency medical equipment is in proper working order.

As much as anything, they want to raise awareness: Beware of kids and pushpins.

This post has been updated with a response from Oxysure

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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41 comments
pstauber
pstauber

So sorry for your loss. 

trinity0610
trinity0610

I'm so sorry for your loss and for some peoples heartless comments. If senior care workers and childcare workers both need to ha e CPR training....why wouldn't elementary teachers? It will not hurt and assures parents that the lives of their children have as much clout or importance as do classroom and curriculum training. It doesn't matter where she for the pin....just that in school , small children don't have access to them.....if a child came from home with any illness, they are the schools responsibility while at school. The same would be the case if she swallowed it at school then had difficulty at home....she would be parents responsibility at home. The simple change to use putty instead of tacs and to take a 4 hr CPR training is not much to ask to make this baby's passing be for a reason and to ensure non other child will even have a chance of passing due to these reasons at school.

jane80
jane80

I am really really sorry for your loss.  I hope this is the last comment you read.  Please spare yourself the heartache of reading unkind postings.  Also, your statements may color any litigation that may occur.  All my best to you and your family.

shelly151
shelly151

Anyone charged with the responsibility of a child’s safety should have CPR training. I think they should give it to new mothers in the hospital before they even leave with their baby. I doesn’t matter if this lack of knowledge had anything to with the child’s death. The fact that the teacher didn’t have CPR means she did not have the proper training to do all that she could possibly do to prevent it.

 

LEHelper
LEHelper

As someone who was DIRECTLY involved in this incident, I can say with 100% confidence that Meaghan's teacher not knowing CPR had exactly ZERO impact on the outcome. 


There are SEVERAL inaccurate statements in this article and apparently in the police report as well.

lebowski300
lebowski300

Why does journalism always take the point of view of a quest for whom to blame? Sometimes it's just that bad things happen and then end of story. But journalists need stories to never end and to exploit them not for useful information for their readers but to titillate and exacerbate misfortune. 

friscomom7
friscomom7

Where is the proof that the pushpin even came from the school. Previous reports state that the girl had tightness in her chest / difficulty breathing that she related to a too tight jacket as soon as she got off the school bus. Plus isn't a 5 year old, old enough to know better than to swallow things. That is on the parents! 

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

Oh look DO censoring comments again.

shamwow
shamwow

Pens and pencils have sharp points. I guess they must be banned as well. I agree with the CPR training though. But seriously, I was raised around sharp objects and I climbed trees and did all kinds of kids stuff. We are becoming a country of wimps.

shamwow
shamwow

Pencils and pens have sharp ends. We should ban those also. What a bunch of wimps we have become.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Do the parents have CPS training? Oxygen tank at home?


I only ask this, because we seem to put a larger responsibility on the teachers and schools, however this is a accident that could have happened at home. Why is someone else responsible for a accident that you yourself may not have been able to avoid.

sooner6770
sooner6770

So sorry for your loss of your beautiful daughter. I can't imagine the pain. I know you will save another child's life if all the precautions stated above are enacted. The American Red Cross and all school systems should have training for CPR for all school employees. This should be mandatory. Rest in Peace beautiful angel.

destinyyv
destinyyv

@bvckvs I DON'T THINK SO.... I THINK YOU ARE CUREL AND COLD HEARTED MAN TO SAY THAT THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A MOTHER LOVE....


ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@shelly151 Before we left Baylor All Saints with my child they wanted my wife and I to take a Child CPR class.  Fortunately my wife already knows it being a flight attendant and I took it just because it sounded like a good idea.  On the other hand, forcing people to take a class is pointless, as if they dont want to be there, they wont learn anything

messwright
messwright

@lebowski300 Totally agree. The worst part of it is that the family is then encouraged to keep looking for someone to blame versus seeking help to assuage their emotional pain. There is no culprit here; it was a horrible accident. I hope this poor family isn't exploited further.

jnicolekennedy1
jnicolekennedy1

Excuse you!! My daughter NEVER RODE THE BUS & DIDN'T have on a tight jacket. The push pin came from her school. She was having tightness in her chest because she couldn't breath!!

gavin.cleaver
gavin.cleaver moderator

@DOisDUMDUM We only censor comments in extreme cases. We just have a very dodgy commenting system.

jnicolekennedy1
jnicolekennedy1

It's not about being wimps! If this was your child you would do the same thing!

tish_harris
tish_harris

@Carpe-clue If you dont have anything nice to say then keep your negative ass off of here...(excuse my language nicole). Remember what goes around comes around, so watch what you say . Because I guarantee you wouldn't say it in there face. AND FYI YOUR THE WEAK MINDED WIMP.

tish_harris
tish_harris

@whocareswhatithink First off, have a little respect for others with your negative comments. And this tragedy didnt happen at home so whats your point, this tragedy happened during school hours which is the schools responsibility while shes in there care. What's goes around comes around so watch what you say to others. This just might be you one day.

Sgibson88
Sgibson88

@whocareswhatithink It didn't happen at home, it happened at SCHOOL.  This is not a concern about what happens at the child's home.  When you leave the care of your child with someone else, you expect that person or facility to look after your child the same way you would.  If no one at home new CPR they would have been on the phone with a 911 operator who could have told someone what to do until the paramedics arrived.  It is apparant you do not have children.

Sgibson88
Sgibson88

@whocareswhatithink Apparently you don't have children.  This is not about what happens at home, this about leaving the care of a person's child with another.  I expect that the school, daycare, or nanny, etc to give the same exact care to my child as I would. If I didn't know CPR then I would have immediately called 911 to get help from the operator.  When someone stops breathing and starts turning blue you can't wait, you have to act immediately.  All daycare and childcare workers are CPR certified, why not the teachers and administrators in the school districts????  We put a large responsisbility on the teachers and the school, because our children are in their care for the time they are in school. 

LEHelper
LEHelper

@TexMarine


I have contacted the author of the story and provided details. 


There are too many to list here and given the litigious tone of the story, I don't want to go into too much detail publicly.


jnicolekennedy1
jnicolekennedy1

NONE of what You're saying was in any report or is it TRUE!!

jnicolekennedy1
jnicolekennedy1

Just bringing awareness to what happened to my daughter.

White_Jesus
White_Jesus

Who does ? You ?

The school has CPR training as well .

Why wad she putting pushpins in her mouth in the library ? My 41/2 yo loves books and the library is like magical to her . And she knows better than to put things in her mouth . And play with sharp things ... And .. And .. And ..

Sounds like bad parenting if your kid is putting pushpins in her mouth at the library . But I doubt you will admit that so you are looking to blame somebody .

Why is the photo out of focus ? I have about a billion picture of ...

I hope I am better parent than you because I would kill myself if something happened to my child .

White_Jesus
White_Jesus

Why not require parents to learn CPR and teaching their children not to put objects in their mouth especially PUSHPINS before allowing them to have children ?

jnicolekennedy1
jnicolekennedy1

The reason for this article is bring awareness & to make changes at any school that needs changes. I don't want this happening to ANYONE!!!!!

White_Jesus
White_Jesus

"Awareness" ? Because most people believe putting objects in your mouth is completely safe , right? And small pointed objects ??! Because I store my pushpins in children's mouths ?

Just think if you would have put this much effort into parenting .

Tell us you loved her all you want . You should have Loved her so much that she wouldn't put a pushpin in her mouth .

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