Questions persist in boy's death

Published May 5, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - Grief counselors visited Brooksville Elementary School on Friday to talk with students and answer questions about the unexpected death of their 9-year-old classmate, Curtis Bashaw Jr.

The third-grader collapsed, or fell, suddenly at his home Wednesday night, according to his parents. He went into respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest and died 20 minutes after arriving by ambulance at Brooksville Regional Hospital.

The death has hit the boy's family and school hard. Curtis was described as an honor roll student who was active in youth sports and in his church.

On Friday, his classmates wrote notes and drew pictures for his family after learning the news, said his mother, Jennifer Britton.

Britton, 29, thanked the community Friday for its support. She said she remains devastated by the uncertainty surrounding the sudden death of her only child.

Now she and other family members must wait weeks for investigators to do further medical tests to bring answers. A preliminary autopsy Thursday showed no signs of trauma, according to a spokeswoman from the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

"We are beating ourselves and second guessing everything that we could have done differently," she said Friday.

The Sheriff's Office and the state Department of Children and Families are continuing their joint investigation into the death. No new information was available Friday, officials from both organizations said.

After falling to the floor just before 9 p.m. Wednesday, Curtis was hyperventilating, vomiting and losing consciousness, investigators said. He was pronounced dead at 9:24 p.m.

Britton is making tentative arrangements through Brewer & Sons Funeral Home in Brooksville. A viewing will be 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. The funeral is schedule for Saturday.

She said donations should be made to the Hernando County Humane Society in lieu of flowers.

Like his mother, Curtis loved animals. At age 3, he was quoted in the St. Petersburg Times at an auction for neglected animals held at the Hernando County Fairgrounds in 2001.

"Nana and Papa, look what I got!" squealed Curtis as he petted a baby goat at the auction. "Look it, look it."

At the end of the day, Britton remembered, Curtis took the goat home. "He loved it," she said.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or 754-6114.