BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The parents of a teenager from Long Island who died after he went into sudden cardiac arrest at a cross country meet in Western New York are now suing Erie County, a local fire department, and others for wrongful death.
Ronan Guyer was 14 years old in November 2012, when he competed at the State Cross Country Championships held at the Elma Meadows Golf Course. During a practice run, he slipped and fell into the mud. The fall on his chest caused sudden cardiac arrest, according to his family. Ronan died at Women and Children's Hospital five days later.
WEB EXTRA: Read the Complaint
In a newly-filed lawsuit, Ronan's father claims the defendants "did not have appropriate medical personnel and / or an automated external defibrillator on site at the time of Ronan's collapse and did not otherwise provide assistance to him."
Named in the suit are Erie County, which owns the golf course that served as the race's venue; Jamison Road Volunteer Fire Company, which the suit alleges did not provide ambulance service to the event; the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA), which sanctioned the championship; Section VI of the NYSPHSAA; and the Southold Union Free School District on Long Island where Ronan was a student-athlete.
Each defendant is accused of negligence and wrongful death.
The lawsuit claims the 14-year-old "suffered severe personal injuries and experienced conscious pain and suffering, including psychological and emotional fear of his death." That would be key to any possible damages, according to Roland Cercone, an attorney who specializes in civil law.
In the suit, the father makes two key allegations of liability -- that an automated external defibrillator was not provided at the event and that an ambulance was not on site.
According to NYSPHSAA's website, a state law from 2002 requires that for an athletic event held off school grounds, "public school officials must assure that AED equipment is provided on-site."
As for the ambulance service, the lawsuit says "Jamison (Volunteer Fire Company) was contacted to provide an ambulance at Elma Meadows Golf Course on the day Ronan collapsed" and "negligently failed to attend." It also alleges the fire company's negligence "caused the Championships to proceed without an ambulance on site, which would have prevented Ronan's injury."
Cercone says the key to this suit will be medical testimony proving the teen's death could have been prevented with an AED and/or ambulance service. "Negligence alone is not enough, you need causation," Cercone said.
2 On Your Side reached out to all of the defendants for comment.
Section VI referred us to NYSPHSAA. A media spokesperson said the executive director would get back with us, but that has yet to happen. A message to the association's attorney has not been returned.
The superintendent for the Southold Union Free School District said in an email, "I have no comment at this time."
A call to the workplace of the fire company's president was not returned Monday.
A spokesperson for Erie County responded with a statement that reads, "While Elma Meadows was the venue for the event, the event you are referring to was held by the NYS Public High School Athletic Association. Prior to the event, Erie County required that they procure insurance naming Erie County as an additional insured, which they did. Accordingly, Erie County is being provided with contractual defense & indemnification in this case under the insurance policy."