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School tragedy - Goal post falls, kills Sts Peter and Paul student

Child’s death from school yard accident angers parents

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 18, 2011    

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NINE-YEAR-OLD Jeremiah Yson was killed yesterday by a goal post which fell while he was playing with friends during the lunch hour at the prestigious Sts Peter and Paul Preparatory School in St Andrew.

The accident, the second such to take place at an educational institution since the start of the year, prompted Education Minister Andrew Holness to again remind school administrators to ensure the safety of their students. "It is very unfortunate and our condolence go out to the parents," said Holness

Police said Jeremiah, a grade four student, was playing on a football field when the iron post fell on him and pinned him to the ground.

"A group of students was on the field playing and we don't know what happened, but the goal post just came down and fell on Jeremiah," a student at the Old Hope Road school told the Observer.

Police Inspector Robblin Wedderburn of the St Andrew Central Division said the student was taken to hospital immediately after the incident, but later succumbed to his injuries.

Yesterday, the tragedy forced the suspension of school for the rest of the day and there was a frantic rush by parents to pick up their children. It also left the school board in shock.

"We are really distraught at this time; this has come as a shock to us," said Christopher Gooden, chairman of the school board.

Despite pleas for calm, parents who rushed to get their children openly expressed their anger at the incident.

"This is shocking; it could have been my child (and) this should not have happened," said Lancelot McLetchie, who was among a group of parents gathered on the school compound.

Chipui Khan, another parent, was equally distraught. "It is really shocking to hear news such as this as a parent," Khan said, noting that he was on the road when he got a message to pick up his child immediately.

The education minister said that although the incident occurred at a private educational institution, the ministry had started discussions to decide whether or not there should be a change in the material used to construct goal posts at all schools. Another option, he said, was to ensure that all schools take steps to have goal posts firmly cemented to the ground.

The incident at Sts Peter and Paul came less than three months after a student at Coke's View Primary School in Westmoreland was fatally hit by a goal post at the government-run institution during a play session. The seven-year-old grade one student, Nicholas Hamilton, of Whithorn, was among a group of students lifting the metal goal post when he was struck.

In March last year, five-year-old McKalia Wallace was killed after an abandoned piano fell on her in the schoolyard at Tucker-Irwin Basic in St James.

Holness said the ministry had, in the past, urged schools to carry out regular audits and assessment to ensure that facilities were kept free of hazardous elements that could harm children.

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