13-year-old dies at basketball camp; lawsuit ongoing between parents, college; STGnews Videocast

ST. GEORGE – On July 22, 2014, Marjie Jones and her husband, Paul Jones, of St. George, received news no parent ever wants to hear: Their youngest child had died.

Kade Jones, 13, had traveled to Salt Lake City to attend a multiday basketball camp at Westminster College with one of his best friends. He and his friend were rooming together at the camp, and his friend’s grandmother had also traveled to Salt Lake and was staying nearby, to be close in case the boys needed anything.

Kade Jones, right, and his mother, Marjie Jones, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones, St. George News
Kade Jones, right, and his mother, Marjie Jones, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones, St. George News

Kade’s departure for camp was the last time Paul and Marjie saw him alive.

“What we want people to know is he was a beautiful, kindhearted, fun-loving, happy, happy kid,” Marjie Jones said, “and he deserves more than to just die at a huge basketball camp and it all be swept under the rug. And other parents need to know that this could happen to their child.”

In court documents, Westminster College denies any responsibility for Kade’s death. A press statement issued by the college called the incident “a very tragic situation.” Beyond the brief media statement issued, the college is not commenting further about the matter at this time.

The Joneses’ account of events

At age 13, Kade was already almost 6 feet tall, Marjie Jones said, and he loved sports. He had been asking to go to basketball camp for a long time. In 2014, his parents agreed to let him go, and he was signed up for the overnight camp at Westminster College.

Kade was a Type 1 diabetic, but he had never before gotten sick as a result of the disease, Marjie Jones said.

“Kade had never been sick from his diabetes, not once,” she said.

Marjie Jones and her husband had worried about Kade’s future and how diabetes would impact his health as he grew up, she said, but they never dreamed they would lose him while he was under the supervision of the many employees, trainers and coaches at Westminster’s basketball camp.

From left, Marjie Jones, Kade Jones and Paul Jones, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones, St. George News
From left, Marjie Jones, Kade Jones and Paul Jones, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones, St. George News

When Kade arrived at Westminster College for the camp, Marjie Jones said, he called home, happy and excited to let his parents know he’d gotten there.

“That was the last time I spoke to him,” she said.

Marjie Jones said they still don’t know all the details of what happened to their son, but she said they’ve been told Kade became sick shortly after the camp started.

“We know that after arriving at the camp, Kade became sick and started vomiting,” she said, “and he became progressively sicker as the day wore on.”

They were told Kade was sent to a trainer’s room to rest after he became sick, she said, and he didn’t participate in the camp activities for the rest of the day and didn’t eat lunch or dinner.

Though Kade’s entrance paperwork for the camp detailed that he had Type 1 diabetes and also listed his medications, his doctor’s information and emergency contact information for his parents and a close family friend staying in Salt Lake City, Marjie Jones said, no one received a phone call from the camp informing them Kade was ill. Kade wasn’t given any medical attention, she said, and none of the camp employees ever checked Kade’s medical paperwork, or if they did, they did nothing about it.

“I mean, everything was there,” Marjie Jones said. “They required the medical information for him to go to camp and then failed to use that information to save his life.”

After arriving at camp, Kade developed a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, which can be fatal if left untreated. Vomiting is a critical symptom of the illness, Marjie Jones said.

Kade Jones, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones, St. George News
Kade Jones, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones, St. George News

According to information from the Mayo Clinic, a doctor should be called immediately if a person with Type 1 diabetes is vomiting and is unable to tolerate food or liquid.

Marjie Jones said she didn’t expect the camp workers to be medical experts, but when her son became so ill that he was throwing up and couldn’t participate in the camp activities, she and her husband should have been notified.

“One phone call and he’d still be here today,” Paul Jones said.

Kade shouldn’t have been the one in charge of making that call, Paul Jones added, when he was so sick and showing signs and symptoms of DKA.

As sick as he would’ve been with DKA, Marjie Jones said, Kade wouldn’t have been alert enough to call home, and phone records show his cellphone wasn’t used again after he made that first call to let his parents know he had arrived at camp.

“Which is another telling thing,” Marjie Jones said, “because for a 13-year-old kid with an iPhone, if they’re lying around bored, that’s all they want to do is be on their phone, but he never (texted), he never sent a call, nothing for the rest of the day or night.”

“We were told that Kade and his friend were escorted to the dorm room and left unattended throughout the night,” she said.

The second morning of camp, Marjie Jones said, Kade’s friend left the dorm room to take a shower. He told her Kade was snoring when he left. She said he may have been in a diabetic coma at that point.

Paul and Marjie Jones stand at their son Kade's grave, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones
Paul and Marjie Jones stand at their son Kade’s grave, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones

When Kade’s roommate came back, she said, he found Kade on the floor. He had a huge gash on his eye and cheek, as if he had fallen out of bed and collided with something, like the nightstand.

In the end, Marjie Jones said, it was a paramedic who called to deliver the news that her son had died. At that point, she said, they had still never received any phone calls from the basketball camp or from Westminster College.

Because Kade had never been sick from his diabetes and had never experienced a medical episode like this, she said, her son wouldn’t have known what was happening when he became sick.

“He was very healthy, other than his diabetes,” she said, “so I’m very sure that Kade didn’t understand what was happening. He had never gone into DKA. He didn’t understand. He had no idea what was going on, and had anyone just picked up the phone and called us when he became sick and began vomiting, we could’ve said, ‘Hey, call 911. Get him to the hospital.’”

Marjie Jones said:

In the beginning, the very first days, I had a call from some security manager, head of security, and the dean of the college, and they both admitted to me, they said – the security guy said to me – ‘Mrs. Jones, we have policies to handle emergencies and somewhere we failed, and we’re going to investigate and we’re going to find out.’

Lawsuit

The Jones family and Westminster College are currently in the midst of a lawsuit regarding Kade’s death.

“Westminster should take responsibility for their choice to do nothing, because our son is never coming back,” Marjie Jones said. “It is why we filed a lawsuit, to ensure that Westminster and other institutions fulfill their promises to keep our children safe.”

A small toy basketball adorns Kaden Jones' headstone, St. George, Utah, June 2, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
A small toy basketball adorns Kaden Jones’ headstone, St. George, Utah, June 2, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

According to court documents, Westminster College denies any wrongdoing or responsibility in connection with the death. Court documents filed on behalf of the college allege Kade may already have been sick when he checked into the camp and that he was not held out of any activities “but was allowed to sit out or stay in according to how he was feeling at the time.” Documents also state Kade participated in some of the basketball camp activities the first morning of camp and stayed in the gym watching at times.

“Westminster admits that (Kade) also spent a significant portion of his time resting in the trainer’s office,” the court documents say.

Legal documents filed on the college’s behalf also assign negligence to Kade, his parents, his roommate, his roommate’s grandmother and any physicians who may have approved Kade for participation in an overnight camp.

A spokesperson for Westminster College said the school is not commenting on the matter at this time beyond the following statement:

This is a very tragic situation, and nothing can replace the young man’s positive impact in the lives of his friends and family. We are and have been committed to doing all we can to help his loved ones through this incident. We have worked to respond to the needs of the Jones family since this tragedy first occurred. We also have engaged in multiple efforts to ensure his memory lives on.

We are disappointed that despite our best and reasonable efforts, including offering a significant, confidential sum, that the family has chosen to take further action. We are still working in good faith to try and resolve their claims.

We have reached out extensively to the Jones family and paid for all expenses, we are grieving as an institution also and express our deepest sympathies. We are attempting to resolve any concerns the parents may bring forward.

The college offered to assist with funeral fees and other costs in the beginning, Marjie Jones said, but everything changed when it became known that she and her husband were suing the school.

Paul Jones said if he and his wife win the lawsuit, they want to put the money awarded into a charity to promote Type 1 diabetes awareness and to benefit diabetic kids.

“We don’t want this to be for nothing,” Marjie Jones said. “I mean, our child died, and we need people to know and understand what happened, and we need it to help other people. Kade would’ve wanted that. He loved people. He loved helping others. He loved kids, and we just don’t want to sit here and wallow in our self-pity. We want to make his life matter, and we don’t want people to forget him.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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18 Comments

  • mmsandie June 9, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Diabetes is difficult, the mother gave the information to camp leaders… When he was sick, and din,t eat they should have gotten him medical attention quickly, when you go in diabetic shock, you need insulin, he obviously fell out of bed and died, and no food is bad.. Why wasn,t he brought to the hospital of clinic?? I hope Westminster college cooperates, change their camp information and be responsibility for this neglect to,save th boy.. Putting him in the. Dorm room alone was bad decision..

  • izzymuse June 10, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Sad story either way.

  • fun bag June 10, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Fact is: the boy should have been managing his health. Maybe the parents didn’t teach him the importance of controlling his condition. Sad story, but the blame lies with the boy and his parents. Probably because of this incident, the camp will reject kids with health problems from now on–everyone loses.

    And I know you guys at stgnews are fond of present tense in titles, but i think y’all are taking it a bit far…

    • khal June 10, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      As a type 1 diabetic myself i agree and disagree with you, the boy should of got the camp to phone his parents when he felt ill, however from experience i know that when you start out in DKA you both feel absolutely terrible and your ways of thinking change. When you are in DKA your body starts to shut down and your brain stops working effectively, you feel that youll be better after a sleep, you feel like its not too bad, you can “deal with it yourself” and at that point a type 1 diabetic has lost the ability to properly care for themselves. which is why type 1 diabetics (especially inexperienced ones like the boy in the article) need to be looked after and checked every 2 hours or so, including a check during the night, to ensure that your blood sugar levels dont start going up (which is what causes DKA) that obviously didnt happen during the camp and as such the young boy lost his life to a completely preventable and recoverable situation

      • fun bag June 10, 2015 at 9:08 pm

        In that case the camp should’ve rejected the boy to attend in the first place based on his medical needs. Going in with the lawsuits just gets the camp shut down for good. If he wasn’t capable of monitoring his diabetes on his own his parents should not have let him attend. I think this was a ball camp not a daycare…

        • Carla December 12, 2015 at 9:07 pm

          That would be discrimination. The camp cannot reject a student because of medical needs! There are laws that prevent them from this. It’s called the ADA. Educate yourself.

    • UBplaying June 10, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      Funbag, you
      show your total ignorance to commenting on something you obviously know nothing about. The parents gave the camp and college all the medical information they needed. Once they agreed to allow the young man to take part in their camp they assumed responsibility for his safety. The parents should have been notified immediately of his condition. Quick action could have saved this child. Better awareness of Type 1 Diabetes is needed.

      • Mike June 12, 2015 at 6:35 am

        Yes, better awareness is needed. My nephew goes to a camp for diabetic kids every year. They know how to monitor the kids’ health. It is a terrible shame this happened and I feel for the family. After seeing the medical expertise at my nephew’s camp, it doesn’t surprise me that experts in basketball would have no clue about the symptoms of DKA. As involved as my family has been with my nephew’s health, I would have not recognized this as a symptom either, but I’m sure his mother and doctors would.

    • ck618@comcast.net June 11, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      You are a despicable human being who is talking about something without a clue! Would you feel the same way if your child got hit in the head and had a concussion but was just sent to his room to lie down without medical attention and died as a result? After all, wouldn’t it be the kids fault or his parents fault for not teaching him how not to get hit in the head! People like you disgust me! There was gross negligence here and if it was as me, I would have it on every news station in America!!! This child’s life could have been saved by one phone call!!!!

    • jcroa June 11, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Funbag,
      What you said shows that you are no where near to being educated in the condition and circumstances surrounding type 1 diabetes. As a type 1 myself, this could have been prevented if the staff did their job. The boy never had experienced DKA and at that stage his blood sugars were so high that he probably couldn’t even function properly. This is a tragic case and comments like this one should be spared. Learn first, opinionated later.

      • fun bag June 11, 2015 at 5:46 pm

        If there was negligence it is the fact that the camp let the boy attend in the first place. Obviously they are not an operation equipped to handle special needs kids. Should they have been following the boy around checking his sugar levels every 2 hours? I think the fault lies in many areas here including the parents and the kid himself. Obviously this was nothing more than a terrible accident. Perfectly natural for the parents to want a bucket of cash, but who was really to blame here? Sad story with no happy ending…

        • fun bag June 11, 2015 at 5:48 pm

          And this is neither an obit or a memorial page, so don’t whine about my comments being whatever…

  • fun bag June 11, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    If it was criminal negligence I would like to know the results of the police investigation. I’d say there was none since this went to civil court. The parents looking to blame everyone else, which is natural i guess–plus chasing after a bucket of $$$…

  • Always Thinking June 11, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    What a happy looking kid. Its so sad. At events like these, I think there should be a nurse onsite at all times who should check on any child that gets ill. Every single sickness should be reported to the nurse. These things are happening far too often.

  • ctal June 11, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Wow, Fun Bag. How ironic that someone with such a light hearted moniker can be so accusatory. I guess ‘special needs’ children should be kept at home with their parents all their lives. Jay Cutler should have never gone to football camp. Mary Tyler Moore should have never been on TV. Nick Jonas should not have performed with his brothers. And, those kids with allergies, asthma, autism, ADHD, heart problems, depression, etc. should probably stay home too.
    Wouldn’t it be a lonely world with just the ‘perfect’ people? Fun Bag – our job as adults is to help our children be a part of our culture and to be safe. I hope you have the pleasure of realizing this responsibility some day.

  • fun bag June 12, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I’ve got a family member type 1 diabetes. If she told me she wasn’t feeling well and needed to lie down I wouldn’t expect her to be dead within a few hours of a blood suger of 2000 or whatever. The fact is, if the boy was that ill and not capable of monitoring his levels and injecting his insulin then he should have had a full time nurse following him around at the camp. It’s totally sad, and you people are idiots, and nothing will change that…

  • fun bag June 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Then again stgnews stories are often times lacking important details, and if this boy was assigned a person who was supposed to make sure he was taking care of himself and wasn’t then it was obviously neglegent… y’all have a good day..

    • fatherof3fields July 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      This is sad… and I empathize with the family. Many kids throw up at camp. I don’t believe the camp should be held responsible. It is up to the child and family to recognize the symptoms. My youngest has type 1 as well and has gone to many basketball camps under our supervision, meaning we are there every day to monitor. I am thankful to parents for being open and sharing stories like this to be reminded of how deadly this disease can be. My thoughts are with them!

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