Guest opinion: More than 4 years after my son’s death, I am still waiting for answers
I want to express my sincerest gratitude to the people of Park City who have been so supportive of my family for the loss of my son Ryan. We could not have made it without you. Thank you deeply and dearly!
I have decided to not appeal the court’s decision granting qualified immunity to the Park City Police Department and School District. However, I would like to point out one example of the many appealable errors made in this decision which I believe affects our community. Judge Nelson’s statement, “Nor are there any allegations that U-47700 was sold, distributed, or used during school time and on school property — let alone that school officials facilitated or even were aware of such activity” is not accurate.
PCPD Incident Report 16-16001, pages 6-7, quote a PCPD officer, while at the scene of the first deceased child on 9/11/16, regarding Google Chat messages found on that child’s computer. The messages indicate the drug was used at school. The last text message from the child was at 12:17 a.m. on 9/11/16. PCPD Incident Report 16-16001 also documents this information was communicated throughout the highest levels of the Police Department and School District on 9/11/16.
Additional records show PCPD and PCSD knew the names of 20 students, including my son, that they believed were in danger of death from “Pinkie”/U-47700 from 9/11/16 thru 9/13/16 based specifically upon the Google Chat messages about having “pinky” in “the bathroom at school,” and that PCPD and PCSD did not notify any of the parents of these students, nor did they notify me that the deceased child’s Google Chats were sent to my son during the first child’s last moments of life on 9/11/16. Two days later, on 9/13/16, my son Ryan died from “pinky.” While PCPD was still at my home investigating the death of my son, The Park Record and Fox 13 News both reported that PCPD and PCSD convened a news conference and falsely stated they had no information that “pinky” was involved in the death of the two boys, and that no other students were in danger from “pinkie.” A video of this news conference can be found on the Fox13now.com website. Finally, on 9/14/16, Fox 13 News reported PCPD stating, “For now, the investigation is not focused on identifying any criminal intent, but rather on protecting students.”
While Judge Nelson’s ruling included, “Law enforcement officers often have legitimate reasons to keep quiet about an ongoing investigation, such as not releasing unconfirmed information that may fuel false or inaccurate rumors,” I believe it is fair to ask what legitimate reason PCPD and PCSD had for keeping quiet about the imminent danger of death they knew my son and 20 Park City students faced from “pinkie” for more than two days, and for releasing information to the public that no students were in danger from “pinkie?”
My lawsuit was never about blame, but about attempting to discuss what went wrong and how to avoid repeating the same mistakes that took the life of a child, while facing escalating legal opposition under false premises. After the city’s and School District’s past four and a half years of silence, I still remain eager to hear what their legitimate reason might be.
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