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Parents sue Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections after son died of sepsis

St. Anthony

ST. ANTHONY — The parents of an Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections detainee who died in 2019 have sued the agency, alleging it did not do enough to treat their son’s emergency medical condition.

Colby Bray, 18, died on Nov. 25, 2019, at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center after being transferred to the facility while in IDJC custody, according to the federal wrongful death lawsuit filed the day before the second anniversary of Colby’s death. Attorneys for Colby’s parents, Jeffery and Michelle Bray, of Preston, allege that despite notifying staff on Nov. 21, 2019, of feeling sick, Colby did not get enough medical treatment in time to save him from sepsis from dead intestines, which a medical examiner ruled as a cause of death.

“Defendants have a duty to provide juvenile detainees with reasonable safety, medical care and mental health care,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendants owed that duty of care to Colby Bray. Defendants breached their duty, and were negligent when they failed to adequately treat Colby Bray’s medical needs.”

The lawsuit does not say why Colby was sent to the Juvenile Corrections Center-St. Anthony on Sept. 17, 2019. The problems reportedly unfolded on Nov. 21, 2019 when Colby told medical staff at the juvenile corrections center about nausea, a sense of lethargy and stomach pains. The teen asked staff for Tylenol and while explaining his symptoms, lost his balance and started falling forward. Colby then vomited and was told to hydrate with Gatorade and return if the symptoms got worse, according to the lawsuit.

Over the next couple of days, Colby’s vomiting continued, and he developed a fever of 101.4 and complained of body aches and diarrhea. Medical staff at the juvenile corrections center continued to use medications like ibuprofen, Tylenol, Imodium and used Gatorade for hydration.

“Nobody believed me when I said I was sick.”

On Nov. 24, 2019, medical staff came in again to check on Colby throughout the day as the teen’s condition worsened. The symptoms continued, and he complained about painful urination. Colby’s resting heart rate reportedly rose to 143 beats per minute. The vomiting continued despite him being given Zofran, a prescription anti-nausea medication. The teen was taken to Madison Memorial Hospital by ambulance, according to the lawsuit.

At the county hospital, medical staff diagnosed Colby with inflammation of the intestines with fluid in the abdomen.

“It was noted in the hospital records that Colby said to a nurse, ‘Nobody believed me when I said I was sick.’ Colby shortly thereafter began seizing for 8 minutes,” the lawsuit reads.

While at Madison Memorial, Colby’s condition got worse, he became unresponsive and went to the intensive care unit. His pulse stopped, and after 36 minutes of CPR, Colby was transferred to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Once at EIRMC in Idaho Falls, CPR was required again.

Once he was stable enough on Nov. 25, 2019, doctors at EIRMC attempted surgery on Colby and found he had a dead bowel and liver involving his entire abdomen. Due to the teen’s poor condition, doctors said they could do nothing to save him and life support was stopped once the family gathered to say goodby at the ICU.

“Had Colby received proper medical treatment sooner, the outcome, in this case, would have been different,” the lawsuit reads.

The Brays are seeking an unspecified amount of damages to be proven at a requested jury trial.

“Youth safety is our chief concern,” the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections said in an email to EastIdahoNews.com. “The health and wellbeing of youth in our care is the highest priority of the IDJC and our staff. However, due to the pending litigation, we are unable (to) comment at this time.”

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