Date of Birth: June 07, 1994
Date of Death: January 10, 2009
Country of Birth: United States
Place of Birth: San Diego, CA
Place of Death: Diamond Ranch Academy in Hurricane, Utah
“The last time we were together, January 3, 2009, as we waited for his plane at the airport, James said to me, “Mom, if something ever happens to me I want you and Dad to ‘go on’”. It was completely out of the blue and I said, “James I could never go on if something happened to you or Matt”. I didn’t know why he would say something like, his future was so bright, and he was healthy and young.” – Sue Shirey
James “Jim” Shirey was a lively, fun loving 14 year old when he met his untimely end in the care of the unqualified and improperly trained staff at Diamond Ranch Academy. His death was attributed to a genetic disorder called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, which does not usually pose significant health risks, however can lead to low blood sugar and dehydration if medication is not adequately administered. A first hand account of the circumstances surrounding Jim’s death has yet to be released however several DRA survivors have mentioned the school failed to provide adequate medical care for Jim when he first fell ill. Because the medical examiner had been unable to determine the specific illness that caused James to succumb to death, Jim’s parents sought out the opinion of an independent pathologist.
“We have the opinion of the independent pathologist. He says James died from an adrenal crisis brought on by the flu. James had congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an adrenal disorder. His body was missing an enzyme that converts cholesterol to cortisone. He was being treated by a pediatric endocrinologist since he was 4 with medication and blood monitoring. Apparently the vomiting and high fever caused his body to go into an adrenal crisis. We were not told that his condition could be life threatening – but it is the opinion of this pathologist that it clearly was. We are heartbroken that his death could have been prevented if we had been given this information. We are working on informing others through blogs and websites that address congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for our family to heal from this tragedy.” - Sue Shirey
All to often kids in behavior modification programs who complain of health problems are ignored, refused treatment and even punished for “manipulating”. We have seen pathologists excuse deaths in programs before, and I suspect there is more to Jim’s story. Survivors of Diamond Ranch Academy will describe punishments that include grueling outside work projects in which students are forced to push a cart around a field for hours on end with no breaks, no food and no water. Failure to complete these punishments often resulted in children being tackled and restrained. Treating a child even without any health issues with such force and violence has potential to cause elevated levels of anxiety, injury and even death.
The truth about Jim’s death needs to be uncovered and those responsible should be held accountable. Perfectly healthy 14 year old kids don’t just die suddenly, especially not from the flu. If Jim had special medical needs it was the responsibility of the medical staff at Diamond Ranch Academy to monitor those needs and provide proper medical care. As reported by his mother, Jim had been treated for his condition since he was 4 and was stable taking medication. DRA was aware of Jim’s condition however they failed to take his complaints seriously and seek emergency treatment when he fell ill. Had they done so, his death could have certainly been prevented… and Jim would still be here today.
If anyone has any information especially witness accounts regarding the death of James “Jim” Shirey, please contact us or comment below.