A 16-year-old Bedford (Iowa) High School student and football player continues to fight for his life at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, and a member of the boy’s family said that his injuries were either caused or exacerbated by physical bullying by teammates.
The southwest Iowa district’s superintendent, meanwhile, acknowledged an investigation into the alleged incident is under way but not yet complete.
Brain surgery on Kacey Strough began at 1 p.m. Friday and lasted for nearly eight hours in an effort to remove a blood clot near the brain stem and address related injuries, said his step-grandmother, Chris Strough, who was at the hospital with other family members.
Chris Strough, who lives south of Clarinda, said Saturday that the family has been told by doctors that the boy will remain in an induced coma for two days to control swelling, then could stay in a coma for a couple of weeks or a month.
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She said that about two weeks ago, teammates “kept hitting (Kacey Strough) on the head with a football.” He allegedly was struck multiple times in the head, and the high school freshman did complain about the bullying to one of his coaches.
The teen afterward developed headaches and speech problems, and he gradually was paralyzed on the left side of his body, beginning with a droopy eye and mouth. He made multiple visits to the doctor, Chris Strough said, and his condition became serious enough Friday that doctors decided to engage in the risky brain surgery.
“This kid’s going to pay for the rest of his life for something an adult could’ve stopped,” Chris Strough said.
Kacey Strough lives with another grandmother, Connie McClarnon, as his legal guardian, Chris Strough said.
Bedford’s superintendent, Joe Drake, who also serves as superintendent in the nearby towns of Mount Ayr and Clearfield, said he wasn’t able to comment fully due to student privacy restrictions and advice from the school’s attorney.
The district’s statement was a general message on taking student safety seriously, but Drake added that he and his staff are “still in the process of investigating” and “in constant contact with the family.”
“Part of it is, we’ve got to wait until Kacey gets better,” Drake said, to gather more information from the student.
The district’s probe began before Friday’s surgery, Drake added, when the teen was at home.
The local police and sheriff’s departments said that they were not involved in any investigation of the alleged incident.