School remembers ‘star athlete’

Published 4:45 pm Monday, May 21, 2012

Aaron Boyd (far left), 20, at the state Special Olympics games at Troy University on Saturday. Boyd became ill and died after he competed in a 100-meter race Saturday morning.

Students and teachers comforted each other and remembered the Helen Keller School student who became ill and died after a Special Olympics event at Troy University on Saturday.

“His death comes as such a shock to all of us. He spent the morning laughing, talking and hanging out with his friends and coaches,” said Sylvester James, one of Aaron Boyd’s coaches.

Boyd, 20, suddenly became sick after a 100-meter track event about 11:30 Saturday morning, according Troy Police. He had been a student at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind since he was three and was enrolled at the Alabama School for the Deaf through eighth grade. He would have been a senior at the Helen Keller School next year. Boyd was a “star athlete” in track, basketball, volleyball and power lifting.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“He was very competitive and I remember that in one game he hit two three-pointers in a row to win the game for us. He was lucky enough to do what he enjoyed most – sports,” James said.

But being athletic wasn’t the only thing Boyd was known for. Teachers also noted his eagerness to help and his caring nature. He was described as “always smiling, helpful” and a “gentleman.”

“Aaron was always asking me how I was doing and always wanted to help,” said Angela Hicks, Boyd’s teacher.

“Aaron was always the first person there to help load the bus or do whatever needed to be done,” James said.

Boyd collapsed following his first event of this year’s Special Olympics state games. It is reportedly the first student death at a state Special Olympics competition.

“Certainly, it is a very traumatic, tragic thing that has happened,” said Herbert Reeves, Troy University’s Dean of Student Services. Reeves helped to organize the event on campus. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and with his teammates. To have something like this happen is a real tragedy.”

Although there was a paramedic team and ambulance stationed at the games on campus, a “mechanical failure” didn’t allow for Boyd’s immediate transport to a hospital. CARE Ambulance Regional Vice President Dennis Poole said he is “100 percent” confident the crew at the events offered the best care possible to Boyd despite a dead battery in the ambulance.

“The delay of transport did not affect the outcome,” Poole said. “There was no difference. The same treatment would have been given to him on the way to the hospital and at the ER.”

Poole said CARE requested a Haynes ambulance rush to the site of the games to transport because that was the closest unit available.

“My patient care comes first. The colors on the shirts and paint schemes on the truck don’t matter,” Poole said.

Boyd was pronounced dead at the hospital. According to school officials, he had recently undergone a physical. He was the son of Stacy Clark of Wedowee.

In line with a tradition regarding the death of AIDB students, a tree will be planted in celebration of Boyd’s life.

“Aaron was such a strong young man. We’ll have to plant a big oak tree to represent what he meant to us,” said HKS Principal Christy Atkinson.

Funeral arrangements for Aaron Boyd are planed for Thursday at 1 p.m. at Midway Community Life Center in Wedowee. The Aaron Boyd Memorial Fund has been established as part of the AIDB Foundation and gifts may be sent to P.O. Box 698, Talladega, AL 35161.

“The AIDB family is deeply saddened by the loss of this special young man and our hearts go out to his mother and other family members,” said AIDB President Dr. Terry Graham. “We are grateful to everyone who responded and provided assistance during this emergency in support of our students.”

The Helen Keller School is a component of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind and serves deaf, blind and multi-disabled students from three to 21 years old.