REVEALED: Teacher’s frantic texts to find help for a dying student as his devastated family claims the trauma contributed to his shock death two years later: ‘I need medical people… he is in a trance’
- Geoff Vezey, 52, died of a heart attack at his home in Melbourne last April
- He was a teacher on a school Europe trip where Timothy Fehring, 15, died
- Mr Vezey’s family claim the trauma from Tim’s death led to his heart failure
- The teacher’s family are now suing Victoria’s department of education
- Mr Vezey has been remembered as a loving father who was a mad AFL supporter
Frantic texts show how a teacher desperately tried to save a student’s life on an excursion to Europe after finding the teenager passed out covered in blood and vomit.
Geoff Vezey, 52, was the assistant principal at Melbourne‘s Blackburn High School when he accompanied 17 students, including 15-year-old Timothy Fehring, and another teacher to Europe.
Timothy was unwell for all of the six days he was on the trip – with his teachers and a doctor wrongly attributing his sudden illness to homesickness. He died of sepsis – an infection of his blood that caused him to go into cardiac arrest – on July 28, 2019.
The day had horrific consequences not just for Timothy and his family but for Mr Vezey. The respected teacher died of a massive heart attack two years after the traumatic incident, which his family says left him with ‘psychiatric injuries’.
Messages published by the State Coroner reveal how Mr Vezey desperately tried to save Timothy’s life after discovering him unconscious.
Assistant principal Geoff Vezey, 52, died in April last year. He had witnessed one of his high school students die on a school trip to Europe and suffered trauma from the incident
Timothy Fehring, 15, died after spending just six days in Europe on a school trip in June, 2019
Text messages reveal the frantic moment Mr Vezey tried to save the boy after finding him passed out outside a doctor’s office
Mr Vezey had taken Timothy to the doctor’s that day to get a certificate that would deem him fit to fly back to his family in Melbourne.
While he was paying the bill, the 15-year-old had gone outside into the hallway, complaining the doctor’s office was ‘hot and stuffy’.
It was then that Mr Vezey found him passed out on the floor. He tried banging on the doctor’s office door but no-one answered until 15 minutes later.
‘Please call me,’ he texted to his colleague at 11.00am, unable to call her.
‘Are you outside the entrance? Tim is extremely unwell… I am on the first floor outside the doctors. I cannot wake him.’
‘Do you want an ambulance?’ the other teacher responded.
‘I need medical people. He has vomited all over himself. Blood is coming out of his nose and I cannot wake him. He is in a trance,’ Mr Vezey said.
‘The doctor is helping me now,’ he sent at 11.25am, and a minute later was told an ambulance was on its way.
The ambulance rushed the teen to hospital but tragically he was unable to be saved.
The grieving family of Mr Vezey are now suing Victoria’s Department of Education, claiming the stress and trauma from watching Timothy die contributed to the teacher suffering a heart attack two years later.
Mr Vezey suffered post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and panic attacks, according to court documents, the Herald Sun reported.
The Vezey family bid for compensation from the state was rejected in January of this year.
They are now hoping to take the matter to the County Court for a judge-only trial.
Tim Fehring (pictured) died on July 28, 2019 on the sixth day of a school trip across Europe. It was revealed that he had developed an infection in his blood and lungs that turned into sepsis
At his funeral service, Mr Vezey’s wife, Johanna Walker, paid a moving tribute to the 52-year-old, alongside their son Hugh.
‘Geoff wore his heart on his sleeve and always told the children how much he loved them,’ she said.
Mr Vezey was a diehard Hawthorn supporter, and was a huge fan of Manchester United.
Ms Walker said her husband was well-known for his ‘terrible jokes’ and when their three kids begged for a dog, he joked to them that they had to choose between having their youngest sibling or a pet.
The family eventually bought a dog named Alfred, who Mr Vezey was ‘besotted with’.
Mr Vezey has been remembered as a loving father who was mad about the Hawthorn football club
‘Living with Geoff was never dull,’ Ms Walker said. ‘From the instant he was awake, he was talking.’
Mr Vezey’s son Hugh said he and his two younger sisters always felt supported by their father, who kept tabs on their projects and exams.
‘He would’ve given the shirt off his back for his friends and family, I’ve never had a doubt in my mind about that,’ he said.
Ms Walker said her husband’s love for Hawthorn was so great that come finals time in September, he hardly spoke about anything other than footy.
Mr Vezey also had a love for fashion, and ‘had more clothes than any other man in Melbourne’.
His wife said that during a camping trip for two nights, her husband brought away nine pairs of shoes.
During lockdown he also took up online shopping with parcels arriving at the family home several times a week.
The father-of-three’s son said he would have given ‘the shirt off his back’ to his friends or family
His grieving family are now suing Victoria’s Education Department, claiming Mr Vezey suffered an ‘acute psychiatric injury’ in the wake of Tim’s death, which was found to be a ‘significant contributing factor’ to his heart failure.
‘He was an honourable man with a strong moral compass,’ Ms Walker said.
‘He was a very loving husband and father and we have been richer for having him in our lives.
‘We love him dearly and words cannot express our loss and how much we’ll miss him.’
Timothy had been unwell since the school group arrived in Europe on July 23, vomiting into street bins, unable to keep any food down and struggled to walk around.
Over the six days the 15-year-old was abroad he lost 5kg.
Staff on the trip as well as doctors who Timothy was seen by chalked his symptoms down to a combination of homesickness and gastro.
Coroner McGregor said staff had made the ‘wrong judgement’ in treating Tim (pictured with his sister and dad)
Tim’s mother Barbara Fehring said her son was a happy and healthy child who couldn’t wait to go on the trip, but added nobody listened to him when he tried to tell him how unwell he was.
‘The people in charge thought he was homesick but he wasn’t. He couldn’t wait to go away, but he didn’t like making a fuss,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘He was a very fit, healthy and energetic kid who was always happy and always wanted to make those around him happy.’
Coroner Simon McGregor recommended the education department updates its policies on excursions and increase student to teacher ratios. Both recommendations were accepted.
On the evening of June 27, staff decided Tim would fly home alone as his condition had not improved