Investigators have confirmed that 12-year-old Bailey O’Neill was punched two or three times in the face and did not fight back. The schoolboy died of his injuries earlier this week and his parents claim the passive Irish American boy was jumped by bullies at school.
O’Neill suffered a concussion, a broken nose and other injuries at Darby Township School, in Darby Township, PA, during recess. Days after the attack he started to suffer from seizures, prompting doctors to place him in a medical coma. After a lengthy battle he died in hospital last Sunday, the day after his 12th birthday.
Witnesses have said that O’Neill tried to avoid the fight with his peers, two 11-year-old boys. However investigators have found no evidence of prior bullying in the run up to the attack.
The investigators will now examine the relationships between the boys. They must also determine if the seizures and deterioration in O’Neill’s health were due to the attack.
The outcome of these investigations will determine whether O’Neill’s schoolmates will be charged with harassment, simple assault or involuntary manslaughter.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said, “We're having trouble showing there was bullying, as a course of conduct as we define it, intimidation or harassment between these two boys over a course of time...We have not been able to establish that.”
“The question is, what degree of charge are we filing? Are we going to be able to establish the seizure disorder that caused his death is directly related to the punches thrown in the schoolyard that particular day?”
After the attack on January 10th the two boys were suspended for two days. O’Neill was sent back to class with an icepack for his head.
O’Neill’s parents maintain their son was not acting like himself following the attack. They took him to the emergency room days after the attack.
The Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office will rule on the cause of his death later this month. Southeast Delco School District Superintendent Stephen Butz said the school is cooperating with the investigation.
Following the attack O’Neill’s father Rob established an anti-bullying campaign, which has been backed by Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice.
O’Neill’s mother told NBC, “He was an honor roll student. He was smart. He was loving. I asked him why he did not fight back and he said he didn’t want to get in trouble.”
His father told ABC, “No more phone calls, no more hanging out, no one to say daddy - it's the worst thing...He didn't want to fight that day. He wanted to walk away. And that's it. He wanted to walk away. It shouldn't have ever happened. I'm at peace at the fact he doesn't have the pain anymore - I feel he's safe now, he doesn't have to suffer anymore.”
Here’s NBC’s most recent report on the case:
View more videos at: http://nbcphiladelphia.com.
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