Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login

Log In

A valid email is required.
Password is required.
Site Notices
Posted: 7/3/2001 8:53:27 AM EST
Death at boot camp sparks investigation By Brent Whiting and Judi Villa The Arizona Republic July 03, 2001 A 14-year-old boy sent to a "tough love" boot camp to learn confidence and self-respect died Sunday after he vomited dirt in the desert southwest of Buckeye, prompting investigations into his death and allegations of physical abuse. Former drill instructors at the America's Buffalo Soldiers boot camp said youths regularly were subjected to corporal punishment, that they were kicked with the insoles of boots and forced to swallow mud. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Monday called the allegations "horrific" and shut down the camp. He also launched parallel investigations, one into the death of Tony Haynes, which he described as "suspicious," and the other into allegations of abuse at the camp. Charles "Chuck" Long, the camp's operator, denies any wrongdoing. Haynes, who lived with his mother in north Phoenix, died Sunday after camp supervisors called 911 to report that he was suffering heat exhaustion. Arpaio said the teen was taken to a motel then returned to the camp before firefighters were called to help him. Haynes' parents said Monday that their son had been involved with the America's Buffalo Soldiers program since March and that they voluntarily sent him to the camp after he slashed the tires on his mother's car in early June. "He was going to take his punishment like a man," said Tony's father, Gettis Haynes Jr., of Hannibal, Mo., who last spoke to his son the night before he left for camp. "I didn't think dying was included in that." The camp is operated by Long, president of America's Buffalo Soldier Re-Enactors Association, a Phoenix-based group that uses military discipline to reform troubled kids. Last year, the Fort Apache Tribal Council ordered one of Long's camps closed after child-abuse complaints involving a boot camp in White River. Long said he doesn't know what killed Haynes but said heat exhaustion wasn't a cause. An autopsy is expected to be completed today. "It's a tough program," Long said. "It's not Disneyland." Two drill instructors, Ralph Corriere of Phoenix and Gregory Dickmann of Tolleson, who both had their kids in the camp, told The Arizona Republic they dropped out before the death of Haynes because of objections to physical punishment inflicted on children. One camp volunteer, Nicholas Conner, 18, of Peoria, said he, too, pulled out because of the corporal punishment. "The problem that I saw is that they were breaking down the kids, but there was no building-up process," Dickmann said. Long declined to address the allegations, but denied any wrongdoing. "We aren't doing anything out here that hasn't been approved by parents of the children who come to America's Buffalo Soldiers," Long said. The Buffalo Soldiers in the past has not denied using severe disciplinary measures to teach teamwork, discipline and respect. Long said that 45 boys and girls ages 7 to 17 were at the boot camp at the Buckeye Hills Recreation Area, southwest of Buckeye. The parched campground lies among dusty creosote-covered hills just west of Arizona 85. The spartan amenities include two ramadas, eight concrete picnic tables and restrooms. There is no running water.
Link Posted: 7/3/2001 8:54:17 AM EST
Long declined to say how many supervisors were on hand, but Arpaio said Monday that 17- and 18-year-olds may have been in charge of the camp since about Wednesday. He said it didn't appear any medical staff members were on hand. Haynes had begun the five-week camp on June 25. His mother, Melanie Hudson, described her son as artistic, outgoing and imaginative. But Hudson also said her son had been caught shoplifting and had attended anger-management classes as part of his probation. Haynes had participated in Saturday programs and a couple of three-day weekends with America's Buffalo Soldiers since March. When he slashed his mom's tires in June to avoid going to a Saturday camp, Long suggested the five-week summer endurance program and offered a sponsorship to pay his way. "I needed help," Hudson said. "Any mom, you don't want to send your kid off, but I hadn't heard anything bad. We were at a final straw. I'd had enough of his attitude and his not wanting to help." Haynes, she said, never spoke much about his previous activities with the Buffalo Soldiers, but he always came home thirsty. Long told her that Haynes had eaten dirt Sunday and refused to drink water and that when he did drink, he spit it right back out, she said. He wanted to come home. "It seemed like it was a little tough," she said. "But maybe that's what he needed was a little structure." The program seemed to be helping. Hudson said Haynes was starting to mature, that his attitude had improved and his temper abated some. Gettis Haynes said Monday that he "wholeheartedly" blames the camp for his son's death. And he blames himself for sending him. "At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing. It was probably the biggest mistake I ever made in my whole life," Haynes said. "These are children. These aren't soldiers. They're not grown men. They don't have grown men stamina. They don't have grown men strength." Haynes thinks of his son fishing at his grandfather's pond and swimming his summers away in Missouri. He thinks of the phone calls he got from him every Sunday night. "In all God's earth, there's no pain like this," Haynes said. "I just want to know why."
Link Posted: 7/3/2001 8:59:57 AM EST
While I have sympathy for the parents loss, I must point out that this is their fault. The divorces and remarrages, focus on jobs instead of the kid, sending him away when he was in trouble. One of the parents should have used the Family and Medical Leave Act and stayed home with the boy instead of just paying someone else to solve their problem for them, like the boy was a computer or a car they were having problems with.
Link Posted: 7/3/2001 9:32:32 AM EST
Yes I blame the parents as well. Kids have been dying at these boot camp/survival type rehab camps for a long time. To not know it happens is idiotic. To send a kid off because you can't handle them is irresponsible. No one else is going to fix your kid's problems, most of these places just make your kids worse, or in this case, dead.
Top Top