The 13-year-old’s mother believes more should have been done to diagnose a medical condition after her son had four seizures prior to his death
Send Marsh Road near the Saddlers Arms pub where a school bus travelling from George Abbot pulled over after pupil Christopher Sears had a seizure
A George Abbot pupil died after having a seizure on a school bus as a result of epilepsy, despite not being previously diagnosed with the condition, an inquest heard this week.
The mother of 13-year-old Christopher Sears, who died on November 13 2014, said she was concerned her son, who had four seizures prior to his death, was not diagnosed with a medical condition and there should have been “deeper delving” by doctors to find out what was wrong.
Surrey Coroner’s Court heard that the driver was notified by a fellow George Abbot School pupil that Christopher, from Woking, suffered a seizure while the bus was travelling back from Burpham along Send Marsh Road. It took a further 10 minutes before an ambulance was called at 3.51pm.
The bus driver, Matthew Young, said that after initially checking Christopher and trying to rouse him, he got back in the driver’s seat and moved the bus ‘about 50 yards’ to the next stop outside The Saddlers Arms pub.
Christopher was taken off the bus and despite the efforts of an off duty police officer who happened to come across the scene and performed CPR, and the paramedics who later arrived, he died.
A statement from his mother, Christel Baumker, was read out to the court during the hearing on Wednesday March 23.
It said that Christopher had four seizures in his life prior to his death, the first in South Africa when he was around seven or eight years old. He also suffered cluster headaches.
Despite a number of extensive tests at different points of his life, no diagnosis was made and nothing was found to be wrong.
The court heard Ms Baumker was notified that Christopher had had a seizure and went to the scene, where she saw the driver on the phone outside the bus.
“I was frantic,” her statement recalled. “I went onto the bus and saw Christopher sat on the seat, slumped against the window towards the back of the bus.
“I could see Chris was blue and wasn’t breathing. I called his name a couple of times. The bus driver then came on the bus. He was on the phone to the ambulance service and said Christopher was breathing but I could see he wasn’t and didn’t have a pulse.
“I said to the bus driver we needed to get Christopher off the bus there and then, so the bus driver carried him off and laid him on the grass.
“I tried to start CPR and couldn’t do it.
“A plain clothes police officer came up with his dog and started it but I could see Chris was gone.”
Speaking to the court, Ms Baumker said she had concerns about the time between the seizure and the ambulance being called.
“I am concerned that a child can have a seizure every two years and not be an epileptic,” she said.
“I think they should have probed a bit more as to why he had seizures. There needed to be deeper delving.”
Speaking at the inquest, Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl, a consultant forensic pathologist, said that on the balance of probabilities, Christopher had a “sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.”
Giving evidence in court, Dr Michael Hardo, a general paediatrician at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, said he was not convinced, following tests, that Christopher had epilepsy.
The court heard he did not seek a second opinion but he said he would have considered doing so if there was a further seizure.
‘I was very poor’
Giving evidence, Mr Young, the driver of the Greenshades Travel bus, said he had just left the first stop when Christopher’s friend came to him to say he was not well.
“I tried to rouse him but I couldn’t,” he added.
Mr Young, who told the court he had no first aid training, said at that point Christopher was still breathing and that he moved the coach to the next stop 50 yards away.
Assistant Coroner Dr Karen Henderson asked Mr Young: “What do you think of your actions?”
He replied “I should have called an ambulance straight away. His friend said he had had them [seizures] before and he would come round in a minute.
“I was very slow to react. Had I had knowledge of first aid, I could have reacted quicker. I think I was very poor.”
The court heard from the director of Greenshades Travel, George Baigrie, that while the company was looking to introduce first aid training for drivers, “no practical steps” had been taken since Christopher’s death.
Dr Henderson is expected to conclude the hearing next week.