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MANGO TREE DEATH: ‘Son told me he was going for tutorials, l didn’t know he was going to die!’

•Emotaional ‘father’ of boy tells story

By Dayo Johnson, Akure

THE death of the 20-year-old Senior Prefect and an SS3 student of ljo Mimo Oluwa High School, Akure, Ondo State capital, Temitayo Oluwole, is another testimony that life is cruel.

Temitayo Oluwole
•Temitayo Oluwole

The only child of his parents but raised by a foster father, Pastor Bode Adegoke, Temitayo fell from a mango tree in the school premises penultimate Saturday and died.

He was said to be brilliant and represented the school and the state in many debates and quiz competitions and won laurels.

His last outing was as a participant in the leadership and character development training programme organised for senior prefects of schools in the state.

He died on the last day of the tutorials ahead of the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination starting this week.

His seat will be empty throughout the examination period.

Temitayo’s demise not only shook his school and environs but also the entire state.

According to reports, three other students had also died after falling from the same mango tree before the latest incident but the school authorities settled with their parents.

However, efforts to confirm the death of the three other students proved abortive as the school Principal, Mr Olaoye, declined comment.

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Temitayo was said to have been asked by his physics teacher, identified as Mrs Kura, to help her pluck some mangoes to take home.

In the process, the branch of the mango tree he stepped on reportedly gave way and he fell breaking his neck and bleeding profusely from the mouth, nose and ear.

He was rushed to a private hospital which referred him to the state Specialist Hospital in Akure and finally to the Trauma Centre in Ondo town.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that the victim could have survived if the medical personnel met at the state Specialist Hospital attended to him promptly.

•Pastor Bode Adegoke

Good in many things

Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, emotional foster father of the deceased, Pastor Bode Adegoke, said, “I am his father by proxy. His father is my junior. His father was very young when he won born. So l took him in as my son. Everybody knows him as my son.

“He was good in many things; in fact, you will score him 70-90%. He was into a lot of sporting activities and extremely good in academics”.

Asked if any member of the family had premonition that death was lurking around, Adegoke said, “Around 11am that Saturday, l noticed that he was about going out and l asked where he was going and he said he was going for tutorials in his school.

“I was now apprehensive and he noticed my apprehension and said that day was going to be the last day for their tutorials before the mock examination. He even skipped breakfast, saying he would eat after returning from the tutorials around 2pm

“He cooked our breakfast that day because my wife was not around. By 2:30pm when l was called after the incident and l rushed to the Specialist Hospital to see him, he could no longer talk, he was unconscious. He was then referred to the Trauma Centre in Ondo where he stopped breathing at about 6:52 pm”.

Speaking on the claim by some students and teachers from Temitayo’s school that the hospital’s personnel wasted time to attend to him and the lack of facilities at the Specialist Hospital caused the boy’s death, the foster father said, “lf people blame facilities at the hospital for his death, that is a general problem in Nigeria. Probably being a Saturday, most of the experts might not be on ground to assist.

“For instance, when we were discussing about ambulance to carry Temitayo to Ondo, they requested for N18,000 and another N5,000 to fuel the vehicle. We told them that this was a student and it was not supposed to be so.

“We were told that we had to pay since the management staff members who could waive the payment were not around. I made the payment and we took off. Perhaps if the incident had happened during a week day, we would have gotten more experts to handle his case. They suggested he should be taken to the Trauma Centre in Ondo and when we got there, he was treated well. He was unconscious throughout until he died at about 6:52pm same day”.

On what he wants the state government to do, he said, “The state government has a right to say or do whatever they want to do. But as a pastor, l see things happening the way God wants them to happen. If government wants to do something, they can but, to me, to God be the glory. I have left everything to God”.

Delay

In separate interviews, some of Temitope’s classmates and friends said that was not his first time of climbing the mango tree.

“After he fell from the mango tree, we thought it was a simple thing but when we got there and carried him with blood coming out from nose, mouth and ear, it became obvious that it was a serious matter”, one of the classmates said.

“Then we had problem getting a vehicle to convey him to hospital.

“Even the vehicle that was conveying him and the rest of us to the Trauma Centre in Ondo where he was referred to from the State Hospital was involved in an accident on the way but we eventually got to the hospital.

“The oxygen that was to be used to keep him alive also had problem. Why we had those problems, only God knows; we are still asking questions”.

The mango tree
The mango tree

‘Evil tree’

Many of the students spoken to described the mango tree as evil.

“Temitayo’s death made it the fourth student who had fallen from the same mango tree and died”, one of them told Sunday Vanguard.

“The school authorities ought to have cut the tree when three students fell and died after falling from it. But we were reliably informed that everybody is afraid to cut down the tree on the grounds that something mysterious would happen should anyone dare to cut it down but we believe that it is superstitious”.

Lack of facilities

A sympathiser, who was in the team that took Temitope to Ondo, Mrs Joseph, blamed the boy’s death on the lack of good facilities in hospitals.

“I will continue hammering on it. Had it been I was around when it happened, I would not have allowed them to take him to the State Hospital, rather we would have taken him to the Police Hospital.

“Immediately he fell, if he gotten medical attention, he would have survived.

“When I was called, I met him on life support inside the ambulance at the hospital. I asked about the doctor who will follow us to Ondo, the driver said he (doctor) was coming. Look at the distance between Akure and Ondo and our road with potholes and the rest. I had to hold the bed inside the ambulance. No medical personnel followed us.

“The lack of adequate medical equipment in our hospitals was the cause of that boy’s death”.

Investigation

Meanwhile, Ondo State Education Commissioner, Pastor Femi Agagu, told Sunday Vanguard that government was investigating the mango tree death, saying relevant agencies in the education sector had visited the family of the deceased.

The school Principal, Mr Olaoye, and teacher who sent the deceased to pluck mangoes for her, Mrs Kura, have been quizzed by the police and may be prosecuted.

Police spokesperson, Femi Joseph, who confirmed this, said timely intervention of police detectives saved teachers in the school from being mobbed by students over the death of their Senior Prefect.

“She (Kura) was supposed to be like the parent of the students in the school and not supposed to have sent the boy on such a risky errand”, he added.

“This makes her culpable on the death. Her negligence caused what happened to the boy and that is dereliction of duty. We will do justice to the best of our ability.”

Joseph said normalcy had returned to the school. But findings showed that students’ attendance in the school since the ugly incident happened had remained scanty.

Many of the teachers have also stayed away from the school for fear of the unknown

And the mango tree in the school compound has been cut down together with other trees following the directive of the state Ministry of Education.

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