(RICHMOND, Va.) — Ammaria Johnson, the 7-year-old Virginia girl who died after an allergic reaction at school, was given a peanut by another child unaware of her allergy, police said.
Johnson ate the peanut on the playground of her Chesterfield County elementary school, Hopkins Elementary, during recess. After noticing hives and shortness of breath, she approached a teacher and was taken to the school clinic. A clinic aid was trying to help her when she stopped breathing, according to police.
“When emergency crews arrived, she was already in cardiac arrest in the clinic,” Lt. Jason Elmore, a spokesman for the Chesterfield County Fire Department, told ABC News.
An investigation by Chesterfield police concluded that Johnson died from cardiac arrest and anaphylaxis, and that no crime or criminal negligence was committed by the child who shared the peanut, school personnel or Johnson’s mother.
“Although not a crime, Amarria’s death is a tragedy and the Chesterfield County Police Department expresses its deepest sympathies to her family, classmates and school personnel as they deal with this difficult and painful event,” police chief Col. Thierry Dupuis said in a statement.
Johnson’s death raised questions about how schools and parents should handle severe allergies. Experts say Johnson could have been saved by an EpiPen — a device that injects epinephrine to reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis, currently available only by prescription. But Hopkins Elementary had no such device on hand for Johnson.
Chesterfield County school policy states that parents are responsible for providing the school “with all daily and emergency medications prescribed by the student’s health-care provider,” and keeping medications up to date.
But a proposed bill would encourage states to adopt laws requiring schools stock EpiPens like bandages and other first-aid supplies for any student or staff member in an anaphylactic emergency. The bill would include liability protection for school officials who give epinephrine in good faith.
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