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Boy, 12, died after collapsing in heat at California middle school, family says

Boy, 12, died after collapsing in heat at California middle school, family says

Yahshua Robinson, 12, died Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, after what the Lake Elsinore Unified School District called “a medical emergency” at Canyon Lake Middle School in Lake Elsinore. (Via GoFundMe) 

A 12-year-old boy who died after a “medical emergency” at Canyon Lake Middle School on Tuesday, Aug. 29, collapsed during PE class amid what a family member called “the sweltering heat.”

Yahshua Robinson’s name was released late Wednesday, Aug. 30, by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He died at 12:25 p.m. at Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta, the release states.

Yahshua collapsed during PE activities at school, and “became unresponsive, a tragedy we believe was brought about by the sweltering heat,” states a GoFundMe page organized by Robinson’s aunt, Amarna Plummer, that is seeking donations for the family.

“Despite the response and care of medical professionals, Yahshua tragically succumbed to cardiac arrest at the hospital,” the post states.

A statement issued on behalf of the Robinson family says: “We are still in shock and disbelief over Yahshua’s death. “He was a bright, talented, and loving child who had a bright future ahead of him. We are struggling to understand why this happened.”

Ryan Lewis, superintendent of the Lake Elsinore Unified School District, of which the middle school is a part, replied to an email requesting comment to say that district spokesperson Melissa Valdez would respond.

In an email, Valdez did not directly address questions concerning details about what happened Tuesday and whether the school or the district have policies on weather-related precautions for physical activities. Valdez cited a wish to honor the family’s request for privacy.

She shared a message from Canyon Lake Principal Gil Rodriguez that went to the school community:

“This tragic situation has raised some questions and I seek to offer some information through this message; however, again, we must respect the family’s privacy,” Rodriguez’s message states, in part.

Rodriguez wrote that “the student was on campus when they showed signs of physical distress,” that the school’s staff acted promptly and that emergency workers arrived within minutes of being called.

“I provide this information to emphasize to our students and families that if ever a student were to demonstrate need for attention, we will respond promptly to their needs and we will contact the family.”

In the statement released by Christina Laster, a family advocate, the Robinsons express gratitude for “the outpouring of support from the community during this difficult time.” 

As of Thursday afternoon, Aug. 31, the GoFundMe had received $42,191 in donations.

Plummer said by phone Thursday morning that she is still processing Robinson’s death and could not immediately do an interview.

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The weather in Lake Elsinore was about 96 degrees at 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to National Weather Service data. That is the time a which deputies were dispatched to the school, which despite its name is in the city of Lake Elsinore. Temperatures climbed to 106 later that afternoon.

An investigation into Robinson’s death continues, sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Deirdre Vickers wrote in an email Thursday, adding that “no further details are available at this time.”

On Wednesday, the school district confirmed in a statement that a student died because of “a medical emergency” on campus, and that grief counselors and resources would be available to students and staff.

According to the GoFundMe post, Robinson is survived by his parents, Janae and Eric Robinson, and three siblings.

“The agony of losing a child is indescribable,” the GoFundMe page states, “and as we wait with heavy hearts for the autopsy results, we are reminded of the unpredictability of life.”