New Boot Camp Death Details

By: Dana Arquilla
By: Dana Arquilla

Anderson collapsed while going through some fitness drills at the boot camp. Drill instructors admit they had to restrain him twice for being uncooperative.

After the second restraining, Anderson developed breathing problems. He died the next day at a Pensacola hospital.

Anderson's family wants to look at the boot camp's surveillance video taken during Anderson's admission, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says it won't release the tape until it completes its investigation.

Tuesday night Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen released a statement saying, "We must not leave you with the impression that this is going to have a good ending. There is nothing good about the death of a 14-year-old young man."

Wednesday attorney Benjamin Crump released a response saying, "It's obvious that something terrible happened to young Martin Anderson and we look forward to being able to review the video tape so that we can find out the truth for ourselves."

As the investigation moves ahead, the Sheriff's Office unveiled its plans for an alternative idea to a boot camp.

The STAR Academy is a school for pre-delinquents to attend on a voluntary basis. The STAR Academy stands for Sheriff's Office Training and Rehabilitation.

Sheriff's officials call it a preventative camp, rather than a punishment camp. It would target a specific type of teenager.

Ruth Sasser with the Bay County Sheriff's Office says, "That gap where kids were becoming problems at home and the parents didn't know what to do, they're faced with a serious and potential problem. But their child's not been arrested yet. What do you do? This program would be for those kinds of children."

The first phase of the STAR Academy would allow parents to volunteer their 13 through 16-year-olds to attend. It's a nine-month program that offers an extra three months for rehabilitation. This will help counsel and re-direct the teens.

"Another way to remain a positive presence in a child's life, to ease them back into society and our community, where there have been temptations in the past, and they haven't resisted as well as the parents would've liked, and to see them ease back in and be successful."

Sheriff's officials are hoping it will draw a positive response. They say they've been considering the STAR Academy for several years, long before the Martin Anderson tragedy.

If the first phase of the STAR Academy is successful, then the Sheriff's Office will add phase two, which is allowing the high school age 17, 18 to attend.

If that is successful, the final stage would be to include young ladies. The boot camp would eventually be phased out. The Bay County Sheriff's Office is going to propose this idea to county commissioners for approval.


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