Circus performer dies on Rhinebeck school grounds

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Despite the efforts from medically trained teachers, an elderly circus performer died on Rhinebeck school grounds in the early morning hours of Feb. 13, according to school officials.

The 80-year-old member of the Yankee Doodle Circus, which had performed in the high school the night before for a Students Against Destructive Decisions fundraiser, died in his camper, which was parked in the Rhinebeck High School/Bulkeley Middle School lot, according to a news release from the district.

In the release, posted on the district’s web site, school staff members were lauded for their efforts in attempting to help the man, whose name has not been released.

Around 6:45am on Feb. 13, according to the release, another circus worker found the man unresponsive and alerted Shirley White and Craig Decker, both non-instructional staff, who called 911 and brought the emergency to the attention of Ed Davenport, the high school principal, and teachers trained in the use of automated external defibrillators.

Teachers Victor Britton, Bryan Kallen, and Matthew Grande responded to the camper with an AED and began trying to revive the man before emergency medical workers arrived.

Despite “their best efforts, however, they were unable to revive the individual, who appeared beyond all reasonable means of resuscitation when they arrived at the camper to assist,” the release stated.

Rhinebeck Superintendent of Schools Joseph Phelan said that the staff members’ “quick and unselfish response in helping another human being in dire need during this medical emergency speaks to their depth of character and their spirit of service and humanity.”
According to the district, police said the man appeared to have died of natural causes.

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