A Lely High School geometry teacher died Tuesday afternoon after having a heart attack in his classroom.
Math teacher Larry Wilkinson, 58, was pronounced dead at Physicians Regional Medical Center-Collier Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon.
Collier County School District spokesman Joe Landon said it occurred in class right after the lunch hour. He said Wilkinson called Principal Ken Fairbanks to tell him he was having chest pains. Landon said when Fairbanks arrived, the teacher had collapsed but was alert.
“He knew he was having chest pains,” Fairbanks said Tuesday afternoon. “We did what we could. It’s just such a tragedy.”
Landon said school officials started to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and students were escorted from the classroom. He added that the school nurse brought in the school’s automated external defibrillator, which delivers a shock to the heart, and used it on the teacher, to no avail.
“Everything that could have been done was done,” he said.
East Naples Fire Department spokesman Greg Speers said emergency medical personnel arrived at the school about 1 p.m. and took over for school officials before transporting Wilkinson to the hospital.
Speers commended school district officials for their quick response.
“They did a fabulous job, as good as anyone could have done,” he said. “They just couldn’t get him back.”
Fairbanks said he would be proud to have a full staff of teachers just like the kind of teacher that Wilkinson was.
“He was always willing to give, give, give — before school, after school,” he said. “He would do anything to help students succeed. He was always willing to be a supporter and help anybody. We are going to miss him.”
Fairbanks said he did get the faculty members together Tuesday to discuss what was going on. He said he will appear on the school’s television channel, which is used for announcements, first thing this morning to address the students.
“We’ll have counselors here by 7 (a.m.),” he said. “We will be contacting some specific students to make sure they are okay.”
Fairbanks said one of the school’s guidance counselors has agreed to stay in Wilkinson’s classes today to talk to students.
“We want to make sure the students are okay, his fourth-block students in particular. We have checked to see where they are at first period so we can talk to them,” he said. “We have had incredible support from the district. They have offered us anything we need in any way, shape or form.”
Fairbanks said the school will hold a memorial service for Wilkinson, who taught at the school for seven years and had previously taught in Immokalee. He said no date has been set for that memorial as of Tuesday afternoon.