Student’s Death Ignites New Push for Defibrillators in Classrooms

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MODESTO-

Alberto Vazquez, the father of the student who died during gym class Monday, is still heartbroken. He took a look the clothes that his son Andy wore to school that day.

"Taking one day at a time. Just hard, really hard,” Vazquez said.

Andy, a Gregori High School sophomore, was born with a heart defect. Two years ago, he had open heart surgery. His family said the teen loved sports but was advised by his doctor to not play football -- he obeyed.

At the time of his death, his family says he was running up and down the bleachers in gym class. The cause of death is still a mystery.

"I need to find out a lot of [answers],” Vazquez said.

His death has reignited a push for automated external defibrillators in classrooms.

A Modesto Cardiology Nurse Practitioner is leading the effort.

"Early CPR and early defibrillation is what saves lives,” Brian Haverdink, a cardiology nurse practitioner, said.

Haverdink is also a Modesto father of two and said these machines save lives.

"Having the opportunity to have life saving devices in our schools is something that should be mandated and necessary,” he said.

Defibrillators reset the heart after a person experiences an arrhythmia. Haverdink explained that these machines can increase survival by 95 percent.

But his push to bring defibrillators into Modesto City Schools isn't new.

It began two years ago after special education teacher Larry Shimel died of a heart attack at Big Valley Christian High School.

"I never really had a full answer to my question,” Haverdink said.

And so far, there are no defibrillators in Modesto City Schools, but he hopes this time around, that may change. So does the Vazquez family.

"If that’s going to save anybody, nobody needs to die in the school, especially any kids,” Vazquez said.

FOX40 contacted Modesto City Schools about defibrillators in schools, and they said they cannot comment on this story right now.

Haverdink said he's planning on speaking at the next Modesto City Schools meeting about bringing the defibrillators into the classroom.

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