15-Year-Old Dies After Teachers Dismissed His Illness as “Homesickness” | “Not the Type of Child to Make a Fuss”

15-Year-Old Dies After Teachers Dismissed His Illness as “Homesickness” | “Not the Type of Child to Make a Fuss”

The teacher who was with him also died this year, in April, as they could not cope with the tragedy.

Image Source: 10 News Melbourne/Twitter

Despite the student's extreme physical deterioration, a young boy tragically died during a school trip to Europe because instructors and physicians dismissed his ailment as "homesickness." Timothy Fehring, 15, of Melbourne's Blackburn High School, died on June 28, 2019, just six days into his international vacation. Teachers on the trip thought Tim's demands to be brought to the hospital were an attempt to avoid participating in planned activities. Tim was taken to visit a doctor in Germany earlier in the trip, who agreed that his symptoms, which included vomiting and significant loss of appetite, may be caused by homesickness and constipation, reports Daily Mail.

His death occurred after he was urged to continue engaging in scheduled activities, during which he vomited in street bins frequently and struggled to keep up owing to his illness. He was taken to the doctor in Austria to get prepared to fly home after his parents and teachers decided that he should not continue with the trip. Tim died while visiting a doctor's office in Vienna with assistant principal Geoff Vezey, 52. He was found lifeless on the office floor when the adolescent went to wait outside in the corridor, drenched in vomit and with blood trickling from his nose. 




Vezey later died of a heart attack at his Ringwood East home in April of last year. According to court documents, the instructor struggled to cope with the teenager's death, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, reports The Herald Sun. While being on the trip he had been texting his mother that he immediately started to feel sick after arriving in Berlin on June 27. In the messages released by his family, he wrote, "I have not slept in hours and I always feel dizzy." His health worsened as they traveled from Germany to Vienna. 

Principal Joanna Alexander stated in an email to the school community on Monday, July 25, that the ratio of two instructors to 17 children on the trip was in compliance with 2019 regulations, but the needed number of teachers has now been increased, reports news.com.au. She said, "It is important to recognize that this tragedy continues to have a profound impact on all of our school community–students, staff, and parents." 




On the day before his death, Tim looked pale and had dark bags under his eyes as he struggled through a walking tour of Austria's capital Vienna clutching a vomit bag. Barbara Fehring, Tim's mother, said, "He was very, very sick, but he wanted to soldier on. He had a lot of respect, the way that we taught him about respecting adults. So if someone in authority was to say something to him he would never question it."

She added, "These staff members took a group of kids they’d never taught… that they didn’t really know from a bar of soap. If they knew him they would have realized he was not the type of child to make a fuss." The Vezey family sought state compensation, but it was denied in January of this year. They now intend to move the case to County Court for a judge-only trial. 





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