Parents Still Have Few Answers On Son's Death, Restraint
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 17, 2003
PARCHMENT, MICHIGAN--Monday would have been Michael Renner-Lewis III's 16th birthday.
But the teenager who had autism died on August 25 -- the first day of school -- after he was restrained by at least four staff members.
Nearly three months later Michael's parents still have few answers.
"The thing that hurts me is . . . I cannot get any information," Michael's mother, Elizabeth Johnson, told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "I am upset at the school. I'm angry, frustrated . . ."
School officials called Johnson around 1:00 that afternoon to tell her that Michael had experienced a seizure, that he had become "agitated" about 30 minutes earlier, but that he appeared to be recovering well.
Around 1:25 a back-up caregiver arrived to pick up Michael but found him unconscious, lying on his stomach with his hands behind his back. She immediately started CPR. The Parchment Police Chief, responding to a 911 call, arrived at 1:57 and started using a portable heart defibrillator to try to resuscitate the teen.
By 2:30, Michael was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
An initial autopsy report showed "no obvious anatomical causes" of death. While waiting for the results of toxicology tests, investigators have been consulting with nationally-recognized experts on restraint-related deaths.
"I was horrified -- horrified is the word -- to hear that Michael was being restrained in school," Johnson said. "I never discussed restraints with the school, and if he was being restrained, he should not have been."
"Death probe frustrates mom" (Kalamazoo Gazette)
Background and past stories: "The Death of Michael Renner-Lewis II" (Inclusion Daily Express)