Local Teen's Death Probed

A 14-year-old boy died Friday after officials said he had to be restrained by guards the day before when he became uncooperative during the admission process at a boot camp for juvenile offenders.

Martin Lee Anderson of Bay County had just arrived at the Panama City camp Thursday and was doing push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and other exercises that are part of the camp's physical fitness assessment when he became uncooperative and had to be restrained, said Ruth Sasser, spokeswoman for the Bay County Sheriff's Office, which operates the boot camp.

"As to how much restraint, it is my understanding that it was not dramatic or unusual," Sasser said. "They stand beside them or put them on the ground or put them against a wall. They do not hit them or knock them over, nothing physically violent."

Anderson then complained of breathing problems and a nurse was called, who recommended that he be taken to the hospital. Four minutes after an ambulance was called, Anderson became unresponsive, she said. He was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, where he died early Friday.

"We haven't got a clue why he died. He'd only been there for two hours," Sasser said.

Anderson was sent to the boot camp after a June arrest for grand theft and had passed a physical screening required for admission to the program, she said.

"Right now no one can understand why we've had this problem. We don't just take anyone for this program, they have to be screened," Sasser said.

The Bay County Sheriff's Office, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Juvenile Justice are investigating the death. The state agencies did not immediately return calls for comment Friday.

The camp opened in 1994 as a state alternative-to-prison program. It is a six-month, military style program for offenders between the ages of 14 and 18 found guilty of committing at least a third degree felony.


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