Students, parents react to death of Collinsville High freshman
The school district where a 14-year-old was seriously injured sliding down a banister agreed to pay $375,000 to the boy’s mother after his death.
The Collinsville Unit 10 school district and a lawyer for the mother confirmed this week that a $375,000 settlement had been reached. The settlement also called for the school district to make changes to prevent students from climbing on or sliding down the stair rails at the high school.
Tray Turner, who was a freshman at Collinsville High School, fell off the banister and down a staircase at lunchtime on Sept. 19, 2016, at the school. A friend had playfully pushed Tray to help him slide faster, police said.
Tray died from his injuries three days later at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.
Heather Seib, Tray’s mother, sought wrongful-death damages from Collinsville Unit 10 in 2017. Tray’s medical expenses totaled $101,351.08, according to Madison County court documents.
In a joint statement provided to the Belleville News-Democrat on Wednesday, Seib and the school district said they wanted to avoid litigation and the “public airing of their dispute.” Instead, they privately agreed that the district’s insurer would pay the $375,000 settlement to Seib and that the stairwell where Tray fell would undergo “complete remediation.”
Barney Mundorf, the attorney for Collinsville Unit 10, said in the joint statement that the remediation involved “enclosing the open stairwells.”
Law enforcement referred to Tray’s fall as a “tragic accident.” The district denies any liability for the fall.
Seib’s attorney, Troy Walton, said in the joint statement that the family is encouraging other schools to consider their own stairwells after Tray’s death.
“The family is glad that CCUSD No. 10 has completed remediation of the stairwell to ensure that such a senseless tragedy will never occur again,” Walton stated. “They would ask that all schools take a closer look at the safety of their stairwells.”
According to his obituary, Tray had an infectious smile and loved to sing and dance. His family asked that memorials be made to the fine arts at Collinsville High School.
Students and community members across the metro-east tried to show their support for Tray’s family and for the school district as they mourned his death in 2016. They collected money for the family, wore T-shirts, wristbands, stickers and ribbons in Tray’s honor and sent flowers and food.
“Tray’s family would like to sincerely thank the students, teachers, staff and administration at CHS for the overwhelming support that they provided following Tray’s fall and immediately after his death,” Walton stated. “Although their hearts are broken, they are grateful to know that so many at the school and in the Collinsville community loved and supported Tray.”