Shock over Hilton pupil’s death
CARDIAC ARREST: Pupil dies in ambulance after seizures during school outing CHAPEL SERVICE HONOURS CHRIS
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.
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.