By MIKE DONOGHUE
ISLANDER STAFF WRITER
The Grand Isle Supervisory Union District officials are banning fans from attending elementary school basketball games for the remainder of the season in the wake of a brawl involving adult fans at a junior high game earlier this week in Alburgh.
The fight became a national story when one of the adult fans on his way home was stricken about 45 minutes later and died, officials said. The cause of death remains unknown.
Superintendent Michael Clark told The Islander today that the ban covers the final two weeks of the basketball season for games hosted by teams from Alburgh, Grand Isle, North Hero and South Hero.
There was no word about any impact on away basketball games played in nearby counties.
The GISU announcement, which came during the lunch hour, will have an immediate impact on games this afternoon when Grand Isle is scheduled to travel to Alburgh for contests between their 5th and 6th grade girls at 4 p.m. and the boys at 5 p.m.
The announcement letter from the school district noted athletics plays an important role in education.
"However, given the current environment, we also recognize that an immediate change must happen. To ensure the safety of all of our learning community, including students, faculty, staff, administration and the community who participates as spectators at our events, we have made the difficult decision to end spectator attendance at GISU home games for the remainder of the basketball season," the letter said.
The letter was signed by Clark, the 4 elementary school principals covering the buildings in Alburgh, Grand Isle, North Hero and South Hero, along with other district officials, including for business, facilities, human resources and technology.
The brawl happened during a 7th and 8th grade game when Alburgh hosted St. Albans City Elementary on Tuesday evening. About two dozen adults were involved in the melee on the court during the second half of the boys game, according to video of the event. Some adults were involved in the fighting, while others appeared to try to be stopping it.
Vermont State Police were summoned shortly before 7 p.m. for a report of a fight, but did not arrived until about 7:45 p.m. because some troopers were dealing with a car crash on Interstate 89, records show.
One of the adults believed to be involved in the incident was on his way home about 7:45 p.m. when he started feeling poorly, officials said. Russell Giroux, 60, was on U.S. 2 in Alburgh when he activated his OnStar alert system in his car and an ambulance brought him to Northwestern Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead, state police said.
The initial autopsy report does not have a cause of death and Vermont's Chief Medical Examiner Office said it was waiting for test results, including toxicology, police said.