Shock over Hil­ton pupil’s death

CAR­DIAC AR­REST: Pupil dies in am­bu­lance af­ter seizures dur­ing school out­ing CHAPEL SER­VICE HON­OURS CHRIS

Weekend Witness - - News - STEPHANIE SAV­ILLE, THOBANI NGQULUNGA and TR­ISH BEAVER

CHRIS Lox­ton, the Hil­ton Col­lege pupil who died inthe early hours of yes­ter­day while on a school out­ing in the Drak­ens­berg , had no pre­vi­ous med­i­cal his­tory of epilepsy or seizures, said his fa­ther, Stu­art Lox­ton.

The news of the Grade 9 pupil’s death came days af­ter The Wit­ness re­ported on the dra­matic res­cue of fel­low pupil Xilombe Tlakula, af­ter a rock dis­lodged on the moun­tain and se­verely in­jured his arm.

As re­ported yes­ter­day, Xilombe (14) was ad­mit­ted to the Chief Al­bert Luthuli Hos­pi­tal in Dur­ban, where his arm was am­pu­tated. His fam­ily could not be reached for comment.

Speak­ing to The Wit­ness, Lox­ton said Chris was a pas­sion­ate school boy who was keen to be with his school­mates.

“He absolutely loved the Hil­ton en­vi­ron­ment. He was a full-time boarder and was very much part of the ethos there. He loved the school.”

Chris had been an en­thu­si­as­tic part of the choral group that re­turned re­cently from a suc­cess­ful tour of Dubai and Bei­jing.

“He was also a solid mem­ber of the Un­der-15B rugger team and had re­cently taken up moun­tain bik­ing. He was also awarded the most im­proved rower award.

“Ernie Steenkamp, the rowing coach, said he had given it to him be­cause of the size of his smile when he was rowing. He was a very, very proud Hil­ton boy.”

Lox­ton said the fam­ily was find­ing it “very, very tough” hav­ing to deal with Chris’s sud­den death.

“If some­one dies af­ter an ac­ci­dent you know they died be­cause of the ac­ci­dent. For us it’s a mys­tery.

“Our kid was on the moun­tain and the sup­port staff did what they could. We have had un­be­liev­able sup­port from the head­mas­ter, teach­ers and par­ents, but the shock is ours.”

Chris dis­played no signs of ill­health, said Lox­ton.

“We were driv­ing down yes­ter­day [Thurs­day] when we were called and told he had had a mild seizure.”

He said a 4 x 4 am­bu­lance was sent to fetch him from where the school party was lo­cated in Le­sotho and was to take him to Medi­Clinic for fur­ther med­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion to as­cer­tain what was wrong.

But Chris had ad­di­tional seizures in the am­bu­lance and went into car- diac ar­rest and died.

“They told us Chris didn’t make it. We are not go­ing to look for the de­tails and the what, why and who. We have not yet spo­ken to the staff.”

Para­medic Brett Deavin, one of two paramedics from Un­der­berg work­ing for Berg Re­sponse, re­sponded to the call for help. They had to drive four hours to ac­cess the re­mote wilder­ness area in the Le­sotho moun­tains.

Deavin told Week­end Wit­ness they re­ceived the emer­gency call-out at 4 pm and only man­aged to get to Lox­ton at 8 pm af­ter travers­ing the rough roads and cross­ing through the Le­sotho bor­der.

“When we reached him he was hav­ing a fit and it was clear that he had been suf­fer­ing from fits through­out the day.

“His con­di­tion was crit­i­cal and we did our best to sta­bilise him and we headed back to­ward Un­der­berg, in­tend­ing to take him to Pi­eter­mar­itzburg to ICU.”

But be­fore the paramedics could get the teen out of Le­sotho to a hos­pi­tal, Chris died.

“When we reached Matatiele we stopped to try and re­vive him but there was noth­ing we could do. It is a tragedy. It af­fects us as it is al­ways ter­ri­ble to lose some­one so young. We had to in­form his par­ents and that was a tough thing to do.”

Hil­ton Col­lege mar­ket­ing man­ager Paul Guthrie said: “We as a school are mo­bil­is­ing to sup­port the Lox­ton fam­ily who are griev­ing and to of­fer coun­selling and sup­port to the friends, board­ing mates and class­mates.

“The pupils and staff have been deeply af­fected by both of th­ese in­ci­dents and we will sup­port each other and seek spir­i­tual coun­selling.”

In his reaction, Hil­ton Col­lege prin­ci­pal Peter Du­casse said: “We are all absolutely dev­as­tated at his pass­ing. The en­tire Hil­ton Col­lege Fam­ily will, how­ever, stand to­gether to pray for, com­fort and sup­port his fam­ily and friends.”

Chris is sur­vived by his fa­ther, mother Deb­bie — who serves on the Hil­ton Col­lege board of gov­er­nors — and his older brother, Nicholas, who is also a pupil at the school.

PHOTO: JONATHAN BUR­TON

A ser­vice takes place in Hil­ton Col­lege Chapel last night in mem­ory of pupil Chris Lox­ton who died yes­ter­day morn­ing. “GOD be with you till we meet again,” was the hymn re­quested by Hil­ton Col­lege Grade 9 pupils last night, to hon­our fel­low pupil Chris Lox­ton, who died yes­ter­day morn­ing dur­ing a school ex­pe­di­tion in the Drak­ens­berg.

The hymn was sung dur­ing an emo­tional me­mo­rial ser­vice in the Hil­ton Col­lege Chapel, at­tended by Chris’s par­ents, Stu­art and Deb­bie, and his older brother, Nicholas, who is also a pupil at the school. Many of the boys who re­turned yes­ter­day from the fate­ful trip at­tended the ser­vice.

Also present were the par­ents of Xilombe Tlakula, an­other Grade 9 pupil, who was in­jured on Wed­nes­day in an ex­cur­sion to the south­ern Drak­ens­berg. He had to have his right arm am­pu­tated.

Some pupils, staff mem­bers and par­ents could not con­tain their grief and tears flowed down their faces.

Prin­ci­pal Peter Du­casse thanked ev­ery­one for at­tend­ing the ser­vice, which was also an op­por­tu­nity to wish Xilombe a speedy re­cov­ery in hos­pi­tal.

Du­casse said the ser­vice was an op­por­tu­nity to share “our loss and to share our grief”. He also used the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain what hap­pened dur­ing the ex­pe­di­tion.

He ap­pealed to the Hil­ton fam­ily to be more united than ever be­fore in deal­ing with th­ese tragedies.

— Wit­ness Re­porter.

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