Tragic accident killed teenager
Investigators say the Ontario teenager who ran away from home after being banned from playing a video game his parents said he was addicted to likely died after falling from a tree in the woods.
But it’s still unclear how long 15-year-old Brandon Crisp survived outdoors in fall conditions wearing just a T-shirt before he perished.
Autopsy results on the body of the diminutive high school student, found more than three weeks after he went missing following a fight with his parents over what they called his obsession with the Xbox video game, show he died of injuries to the chest.
“(Provincial police are) still at the scene trying to piece together the hours leading up to his death,” Barrie police Sgt. Dave Goodbrand said Saturday after autopsy results were released by the chief coroner’s office in Toronto.
“We’re assisting them in trying to build a timeline and determine exactly why he was where he was and what led to his death.”
Using dental records, the coroner confirmed the body found beside a tree Wednesday by hunters was indeed Brandon’s.
The boy’s parents, who at one point feared their son might have been lured by other online gamers, were told of the findings Friday night.
They had spoken out about the grip video games had on their son during the search for him, and at one point acknowledged even they didn’t realize just how much gaming meant to Brandon.
But they remained in seclusion over the weekend, asking for privacy as they dealt with the news that foul play had been ruled out in their son’s death.
“It’s a very difficult time for them, they’re taking it very hard,” Goodbrand said. “This is tragic news for everybody involved.”
Police and civilians conducted several ground searches during the weeks that the boy was missing. But they failed to turn up meaningful clues.
Microsoft, maker of the Xbox game console, also provided assistance in a cyber search, based on the possibility the teen had met up with a friend made while playing the Internet-linked game, or even that he had been abducted.
“Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the family, because this is one of the ultimate, devastating consequences of these kinds of addictions,” said Emily Noble, president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.
The union will be lobbying politicians at all levels to fund more education about the safe use of technology, she said, which was already a priority but has taken on a new meaning following Brandon’s death.
“This shines a light that these things are happening,” she said. “We as adults tended to dismiss it before.”
Stephen Kline, a researcher with Simon Fraser University who has studied youth and compulsive gaming, said the sad ending to Brandon’s life will make it difficult for parents to act if they see their children growing increasingly preoccupied with gaming.
“Coming out of this, I think a lot of parents will say, ‘Well, what can I do? I can’t take the game away. I think my kid will do a bump,” he said. “There’s a deep lack of information about what to do.”
The 10 days police spent scouring the area near Barrie, Ont., where Brandon was last sighted did not cover the exact spot where he was found, police said.
“We had not searched that area and that really wasn’t the area we were focused on,” Goodbrand said.
“We based our search on the area where he was last seen.”
Brandon’s parents were expected to make a statement next week.
His funeral was planned for 10 a.m. on Friday at St. Mary’s Church in Barrie.
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