A Pennsylvania boy is currently in a medically induced coma after a schoolyard fight with classmates who he and his family claims were bullying him.
Sixth-grader Bailly O’Neil, an honors student, of Darby Township, Pa., was involved in a fight four weeks ago at the Darby Township School. He was struck several times in the face by another student; the blow fractured his nose and he fell to the ground.
His parents brought their son, who had a concussion, to the A.I. DuPont hospital in Wilmington, Del., where he was treated and released. But his father saw that something wasn’t quite right with their son when they returned home.
“He was sleeping. He was moody. He wasn’t himself. He was angry a little bit. He wasn’t really eating,” Bailey’s father Rob told ABC Affiliate WPVI-TV.
Just a few days later, Bailey started having violent seizures and needed to be hospitalized again. The seizures were so bad that doctors at A.I. DuPont were forced to put Bailey in a medically induced coma nearly two weeks ago.
When contacted, A.I. DuPont Hospital was unable to provide an update to ABC News on Bailey’s current condition because of privacy laws. His father is trying his best to cope.
“Every day I’m trying to stay strong for him,” he told WPVI-TV. “When you get into that hospital room and you’re looking at him, I would trade places in a heartbeat. It’s my buddy, you know.”
Southeast Delco School District Superintendent Stephen Butz told ABCNews.com the school has turned the investigation over to local police and is cooperating fully with their efforts.
“We take bullying seriously,” he said. ”We are very concerned about the medical condition of the student and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and students.”
According to Bailey’s father, the boy who struck his son was suspended for two days following the incident, but police have not filed any criminal charges in the case.
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Authorities are investigating an incident that occurred Jan. 10 in the schoolyard at Darby Township School involving a sixth-grade student who is entering a third week today in what his maternal grandmother described as a medically induced coma.
Family members of 11-year-old Bailey O’Neill blame “two bullies” for his injuries, which grandmother Joy Fecanin said include a broken nose, a concussion and ultimately, uncontrollable seizures. Though allegations of bullying are part of an ongoing investigation by Darby Township police and county juvenile authorities, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan declined speculation Thursday night.
“We are reviewing the bullying issue to determine if it did occur, or if it was a fight in the schoolyard,” said Whelan, who was attending a conference this week in Pittsburgh.
Whelan said investigators also “will be looking at medical records” to determine causation of Bailey’s current medical condition.
“The doctors say it is a result of a blow to the head,” Fecanin said during an emotional interview Thursday evening at her Darby Borough home.
Pictures of Bailey, the first-born grandchild, adorn the walls, tables and shelves. An honor student who would always walk his 8-year-old brother to their home in Darby Township from school, Fecanin said, “He is such a good kid. He didn’t bother anyone.”
Southeast Delco School District Superintendent Stephen D. Butz said Thursday the district is aware of the incident and had requested that Darby Township police assist in an investigation.
“We are aware of a sixth-grade student who has been hospitalized. We are aware of an incident with another student that took place at Darby Township School prior to this hospitalization,” Butz said in a prepared statement. “We are very concerned about the medical condition of this student. And our thoughts and prayers are with him.”
Darby Township Deputy Police Chief Brian Patterson said their investigation began Jan. 10, the same day as the incident.
“We were notified a couple hours after the incident, which occurred in the morning,” Patterson said.
According to Fecanin, two 11-year-old students “jumped” her grandson during lunch recess three or four weeks ago, as schoolmates gathered around them in a circle and watched. Fecanin was told by Bailey’s mother that there is a video of the incident, which Fecanin indicated shows school security and a teacher running outside to break up the commotion.
“I am very frustrated because these two kids are walking the halls and my grandson is immobile and getting worse,” Fecanin said. “We don’t know what is going to happen to him.”
According to Patterson, the incident in question was “a one-on-one altercation,” information he said was based on numerous statements by students and adult witnesses.
Afterward, Fecanin said her grandson returned to class and “sat there for the rest of the day with a broken nose. They never even called his mother,” she said.
Bailey then walked home from school as usual, only to be greeted by his mother who, according to Fecanin, was aghast at what she saw,and took Bailey to a hospital. Fecanin could not recall which hospital.
“They referred her to an ear, nose and throat specialist for Bailey,” Fecanin said.
According to Fecanin, Bailey returned to school for about a week. But when he started getting headaches, his mom took him back to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a concussion, she said.
When another week went by and Bailey was fatigued and vomiting, his mom took him to Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., where he was kept overnight to treat dehydration.
“Overnight he had a seizure,” which continued and became uncontrollable, Fecanin said.
On Thursday, which marked two weeks since duPont doctors placed him into a coma, Bailey was transferred to another hospital, which family declined to disclose to avoid media scrutiny.
“They couldn’t do anything more for him at duPont,” Fecanin said, her eyes filling with tears.
Bailey’s mother, Jina Risolo, stepfather, Rich Risolo, and father, Rob O’Neill, are keeping a bedside vigil at the hospital, according to Fecanin. Through her mother, Jina Risolo declined comment.
Though Bailey’s aunt, 15-year-old Michelle Fecanin, hasn’t been permitted to visit him in the hospital, he’s all that is on her mind. A 10th-grade student at Penn Wood High School, she said bullying is a pervasive problem in and out of schools, and it can happen for myriad reasons, like appearance, personal interests and grades.
“Kids are so violent. People say it’s because of TV and video games. I think most of the violence is coming from TV, video games and music,” she said. “It’s just stupid. What do they get out of it.”
According to Michelle Fecanin, Bailey is not the fighting type.
“He doesn’t even like to stand up to his younger brother,” she said.
Joy Fecanin’s eyes teared again as she asked for continued prayers for her grandson, as well as his family, especially her daughter, Jina.
“When you send your kid to school, you expect him to be safe, you expect your kid to be OK,” Fecanin said.
All Joy Fecanin wants to know is that she will soon be able to tell her grandson that she loves him, that she’s going to kiss him and that he will respond out of typical preteen embarrassment, “Stop that mom-mom,” just like before.