Teenager at South Texas Children’s Home dies
By Vicki Hewitt
South Texas Children’s Home
BEEVILLE—J.D. Gomez, a 17-year-old boy in the care of South Texas Children’s Home, died Jan. 25.
Gomez was discovered unconscious in the shower and did not respond to CPR administered by several staff members at the children’s home. The sheriff’s department and emergency medical service personnel arrived quickly, but Gomez did not regain consciousness.
Gomez, an athlete at Pettus High School, left school with a fever and respiratory symptoms three days before his death. On Jan. 23, he was taken to the doctor in Kenedy and began taking prescribed medication to treat an infection.
He had remained home from school Friday morning and had awakened to take a shower when he apparently passed out, children’s home officials said.
“All signs of this tragic event indicate that Gomez’s death is health related,” said Todd Roberson, president and CEO of South Texas Children’s Home. “We are deeply saddened by his death, and our hearts go out to this child’s family, the house parents, our caseworkers and others who have been involved in this child’s life.
The local justice of the peace ordered an autopsy, as is typical in this type of instance, Roberson noted.
“We know that staff did everything they could do to revive J.D. We also believe staff followed proper protocol and procedures for dealing with a child’s illness and seeking the proper medical treatment for that illness,” he said. “Right now, we are working hard to help our campus community deal with the shock of this sad news.”
Residents and staff of South Texas Children’s Home assembled about 1:30 on Jan. 25 when Greg Huskey, Boothe Campus administrator, announced Gomez’s death.
“We’re family,” Huskey said, “and we wanted to be the ones to tell you this news before you heard it from others.”
Mark Childs, vice president of childcare at STCH, invited the children and staff to ask questions and to talk with a houseparent, caseworker, or any staff member to get the help they needed to deal with the loss.
“We don’t have a lot of answers right now,” Childs said. “But we trust God. This is a tough time, but we’ll get through this together.”
Caseworkers and counselors were on hand to offer comfort and counsel.
South Texas Children’s Home has also offered counseling assistance to the Pettus Independent School District, and district Superintendent Tucker Rackley offered his support to the children’s home.
South Texas Children’s Home has been meeting the needs of children and families in South Texas since 1952 and never had a situation of this nature during that time, Roberson noted.
“There is a very close family atmosphere,” he said. “Children in our care live in a cottage, or house, with a couple who serve as house-parents. The cottages function much like any family would, with meals being prepared in the cottages and the family planning activities together. The children attend public school, local churches, and participate in extracurricular activities. It’s going to be very hard for everyone to deal with this sad news. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.”
South Texas Children’s Home is a multi-service organization offering basic dependent childcare, emergency care, family counseling services and international/humanitarian efforts. It is a licensed childcare facility regulated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. It is also an affiliate of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and is governed by a board of 24 volunteer directors. STCH does not accept state or federal funds for operation, and relies solely on the generosity of individuals, churches, businesses, foundations and other organizations for funding.