Family of teen who died at Lakeland boarding school ‘shocked and disturbed’ by state report

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A lawyer for the family of the 17-year old girl who died after being found unresponsive at a Lakeland boarding school says the family did not know the full details of her May 2020 death until now.

According to a report from the Florida Department of Children and Families, 17-year-old Naomi Wood of Vermont complained of stomach pains for weeks but never saw a doctor, despite her request.

“The Woods were first provided the DCF report on Tuesday. They are shocked and disturbed by what appears to be the failure of Lakeland Girls Academy to provide medical assistance to their daughter,” attorney Alexander Hunt wrote in a statement to 8 On Your Side. “Lakeland never called them to report any issue with Naomi’s health prior to the time she was found unresponsive. We will be actively pursuing this matter.”

The DCF report was publicly available this week. It has since been removed from the website.

In it, the state found evidence of “inadequate supervision” and “medical neglect” by staff.

“The facility did not have appropriate protocols in place to address medical emergencies and/or regular medical care with physicians,” the report reads.

Instead of taking Wood to see a medical professional, the report said she was given Pepto Bismol 20 times.

Ana Lucia Durfee says she was Wood’s roommate until the day she died and witnessed her being given the Pepto Bismol.

“If we needed to see the doctor, you pretty much knew you just weren’t going to. You could fill in requests but you kind of just automatically knew it wasn’t going to happen,” said Durfee.

Durfee said she did not know Wood was feeling unwell until the hours before she was found unresponsive.

“We helped move her mattress to the floor because she was on a top bunk and I thought it’d be easier for her to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night,” she said.

At one point, Durfee said, a staff member came in and Wood would not wake up.

“I was in complete shock. I didn’t know what to feel because I was just looking down at it happening,” said Durfee.

Durfee has lived with guilt, wondering what more she could have done to help Wood.

She does not blame the “program,” as she calls it, for Wood’s death.

“It’s not their fault, yet I would have really liked to have seen more sympathy, more empathy, more caring, more checking up on her,” said Durfee.

8 On Your Side has tried to contact leadership at Lakeland Girls Academy all week at the campus, over the phone and email.

We spoke with Executive Director Dan Williams outside his home on Thursday.

“I’ve been advised by our organization that I can’t comment on anything. We have nothing to hide regarding that incident and we’re in full cooperation with all of the entities involved. I’m sorry that I can’t comment more on that,” said Williams.

8 On Your Side sent a list of questions to Teen Challenge’s legal counsel and has not yet heard back.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss