THE fatal collapse of a Bexley teenager on a trek in Morocco was not considered an emergency by one of the guides running the expedition, an inquest has heard.
Bexley Business Academy student Samuel Boon collapsed while attempting an incline in close to 40C heat at around 3.30pm on the second day of the trek to Amizmiz in the foothills of the Atlas mountains on July 17, 2012.
The group of 11 students had failed to reach their campsite for the night the day before after struggling with the heat on what was the first day of a six-day trek, an inquest into Samuel’s death heard yesterday.
The 6ft 2in, 20st, 17-year-old had twice struggled to climb hills before but had been persuaded to press on before he fell to the ground by the side of a building down a track some distance from a main road, the hearing was told.
Amid frantic efforts to cool Samuel using water from other members of the group, his condition deteriorated rapidly as heat exhaustion took hold.
But in the account of a ground agent employed by World Challenge, the foreign expedition operator running the trek, a “challenger collapsing” was described only as a “low level” incident not considered an emergency.
In a statement read to the court by Coronor Selena Lynch at Bromley Civic Centre, Omar Ait Lmouden claimed he had to ring a doctor to get him to open the nearest hospital because it was closed.
Instead of an ambulance as the group expected, a minibus eventually arrived for Samuel who had to be carried to the road on an improvised stretcher and it was two hours after he collapsed before he finally received hospital treatment.
Mr Lmouden said: "In all my time working for World Challenge I have never called an ambulance - they are slower than tourist transport."
Team leader Stephen Bates had to perform CPR on Samuel before he was put into the minibus after his lips turned blue.
He did not call for the helicopter which students, parents and teachers at Bexley Business Academy had been led to believe would be available in emergencies.
Ms Lynch put it to Mr Bates: “It follows you didn’t think you needed a helicopter” to which he replied: “No, I suppose you’re right because I thought transport had been sorted and was en-route.”
Ms Lynch added: "You know you have got a collapsed schoolboy desperately in need of medical attention – surely you're looking at your watch constantly?
“Did you have any heated discussions at all? Were you just calm and looking after the other challengers?”
Mr Bates replied: “Calm might be the wrong word. I wasn’t calm as in blasé calm – I was controlling the situation as best I could.”
Before Samuel collapsed, the group had agreed to try and get a lift from a bus whose "impatient" driver was at the top of the hill they were on "refusing to wait", according to World Challenge-appointed guide Ibrahim Chejja.
Mr Chejja took a lift from a passing French couple to a nearby shop to try and get water for Samuel – as group supplies were running low trying to cool him off – but came back only with Coca Cola.
The inquest is expected to last until Friday.
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