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Cadet who died while camping refused food

Published August 14, 2006

MIAMI - A 13-year-old private military academy cadet who died while camping at a state park repeatedly refused food throughout the excursion, the father of two other cadets said Sunday.

Victor Jusino of Sunrise said his sons, ages 9 and 10, told him the boy, whose name has not been released, continuously threw away food after the 33 cadets arrived early Wednesday at Oleta River State Park for the Back to Basics Christian Military Academy's Training and Leadership Corps campout.

The academy's principal, Lynda Browne, did not return messages left at the school Sunday. North Miami police have released few details about their investigation into the 13-year-old's death. An autopsy was scheduled for today.

"They described to me that he wasn't eating. He wasn't feeling well. His stomach was hurting him and the heat was getting to him," Jusino said. "The whole trip, he was throwing away food while he was there."

Jusino said his sons told him they were given three meals a day after starting each morning with a long hike. But the boys were dehydrated, sunburned and had multiple insect bites when he picked them up Saturday morning at the North Miami police station. The oldest boy also told his father one of the drill sergeants had pushed him up against a tree when he failed to quickly obey a command.

"They were very dirty, their clothing was wet. They had been sleeping in wet clothes, and their hair had been cut," Jusino said.

The boy got out of bed in the middle of the night to tell a drill sergeant he didn't feel well, and collapsed on the way to the bathroom, Browne said Saturday.

She has said the boy's mother told her that her son "wasn't the most physical, strong or athletic child."

Academy officials have not released additional information about the cadet's death to parents, Jusino said.

The academy subcontracts with Fort Lauderdale-based Juvenile Military Training and Leadership Corp. The camp is run by certified National Guard drill sergeants, Browne has said.

Oleta River State Park, Florida's largest urban park, offers canoeing and kayaking, saltwater fishing and off-road bicycling trails.

[Last modified August 14, 2006, 01:22:53]

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