Student who collapsed while running in PE class died of natural cause, court rules

The student collapsed minutes into the 1.5 km run and was declared dead at the hospital. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The student collapsed minutes into the 1.5 km run and was declared dead at the hospital. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A secondary school student who collapsed while running during a physical education class two years ago died a natural death, the coroner’s court ruled Tuesday.

Xiao Ye-tao, 19, died from myocarditis, or inflammation of heart muscle, the jury found, concluding the six-day hearing. Witnesses earlier testified that Xiao suffered from cardiovascular conditions, but that the teacher was not informed.

The form four student fainted during a PE class on March 18, 2019, when the teacher, Chow Wai-yip, brought students to Shing Mun Valley Sports Ground in Tsuen Wan. Chow testified in court that he asked if there were any students who were not suited to do the 1.5 km run before starting, but nobody spoke up, according to Stand News.

Around seven minutes into the run, students informed him that Xiao was feeling unwell, Chow said. By then, Xiao was lying on a road with difficulty breathing, his face pale. The teacher gave him first-aid treatment, administering electric shocks using an AED.

Xiao was rushed to Yan Chai Hospital, where he was certified dead.

According to Chow, Xiao had participated in a 400 m race during the school’s Sports Day just months before.

His mother testified that Xiao collapsed in June 2018 and was hospitalized for three days. After that, his school health declaration was updated to state that he suffers from chest pain and shortness of breath, and is not suited for vigorous activity or running.

But Chow said he was not aware of the updated declaration.

The principal admitted that there was a lack of communication and that a review was conducted after Xiao’s death.

The jurors recommended that the Sectary for Education conduct annual inspections to make sure that schools fulfill guidelines on safe physical education, and to penalize schools that fall short.

Read more: Racial privilege is well and alive in Hong Kong’s English teaching industry. Where’s the reckoning?

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