Investigators examine gym surveillance video after St. Augustine girl collapses at school, dies

By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax

Updated:

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A St. Augustine middle school student died of an enlarged heart, according to the medical examiner’s preliminary findings.

The Medical Examiner’s Office completed 13-year-old Paris Byrd’s autopsy on Wednesday, but is still waiting on toxicology and other lab results.

She collapsed in Murray Middle School’s gymnasium during basketball tryouts. 

Paris died just days shy of her 14th birthday.

“That's my baby, that's all I can say. And I miss her and it's tearing me up because I didn't expect this at all,” said Paris’ mother, Erika Lowe. “She was just an angel, sweet, as sweet and loving as she could be.”

Overcome with grief, Lowe can’t help but think of the what-ifs.

“She wanted to try out for basketball, and I gave her the OK. I said OK, but – I don’t know. God called her home, I guess,” Lowe said.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan said investigators examined surveillance video from inside the gym.

“That video doesn’t show us anything -- that there was any kind of fight, any kind of trauma,” Mulligan said.

Mulligan said investigators also interviewed students who were in the gym when Paris collapsed.

“We walked in the gym and she, like, fell and then she started going [gasping] and that's it," said sixth-grade Murray Middle School student Raniya Anderson. 

Murray Middle School Principal Tom Schwarm released the following statement on Wednesday about Paris:

“Paris represented what is amazing about our children at Murray. A student, who despite life’s difficult challenges and circumstances, demonstrated impeccable perseverance, hope, and strength to achieve greatness. She displayed a unique combination of thoughtfulness, positivity, and leadership that radiated from within and influenced all she encountered in her time with us. As a top student in our A.V.I.D., Cambridge Advanced Studies, and Center Arts programs, Paris not only excelled in her academic studies through hard work and dedication, but also inspired her classmates to achieve. In such a short life, she created a life-long positive impact on our Murray family that will endure always.”

Murray Middle had a crisis team at the school on Wednesday, including grief counselors and social workers to help students and teachers cope with Paris’ death.

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