Jonathan Kyle Briese – Cadet 2nd Class, United States Coast Guard Academy

From a contemporary press report:

Jonathan Kyle Briese, 20, a graduate of Lake Braddock High School who was a second-class cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, died February 19, 2000 at Inova Fairfax Hospital, Virginia,  after collapsing at a dermatologist’s office.

He had taken medication in preparation for minor laser surgery. The cause of death has not yet been determined by the Virginia medical examiner’s office.

Mr. Briese was born in Orlando, Florida,  and raised in Burke, Virginia. He was a graduate of Lake Braddock Middle School and a member of the varsity swim and dive team at his high school. He also participated there in the student mediation program and was an Eagle Scout. He was a volunteer with the Burke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.

At the Coast Guard Academy, he played on the championship lacrosse team and the precision drill team. He was appointed morale officer for his unit. His interests also included skiing, scuba diving, mountain biking and backpacking.

He was a member of Temple B’nai Shalom in Fairfax Station.

Survivors include his parents, Garry and Roni Briese, both of Burke; a brother, Oren Briese of Castle Rock, Colo.; and his grandparents, George and Doris Briese of Jacksonville, Fla., and Naomi Kudler of Ramat Hasharon, Israel.


A second-class cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, JONATHAN KYLE BRIESE died February 19, 2000, due to complications related to minor surgery.

Jonathan graduated in 1997 from Lake Braddock High School in Burke, VA, where he was a member of the varsity swim and dive team and the student mediation program. He was an Eagle Scout, and he had completed a number of BSA high adventure treks. Jonathan had a lifelong affiliation with the fire service, and he served for a time with the Burke Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department.

At the Coast Guard Academy, Jonathan was active on the school’s championship lacrosse team and its precision drill team. He had been appointed morale officer for his unit and was planning to sail on the tall ship USCG Eagle this summer to train fourth-class cadets.

Jonathan was an avid skier and a certified diver; he also enjoyed hiking, backpacking and mountain biking. He volunteered as an advisor for a BSA troop in New London.

Jonathan is survived by parents, Garry and Roni of Burke; brother, Oren of Castle Rock, CO; grandparents, George and Doris Briese of Jacksonville, FL, and grandmother, Naomi Kudler of Ramat Hasharon, Israel.

Services will be held at Temple B’nai Shalom, 7612 Old Ox Rd., Fairfax Station, VA 22039, on Friday, February 25, at 10:45 a.m. Interment Arlington National Cemetery at 2 p.m., with a reception to follow.

In observance of religious custom, the family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the following organizations: Temple B’nai Shalom at the address listed above, U.S. Coast Guard Lacrosse Boosters Fund, 9621 Tinsmith Lane, Burke, VA 22015, or National Eagle Scout Association Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 152079, Irving, TX 75015-2079. Please include ”in memory of Jonathan Briese” on donations and accompanying correspondence.

News Update: 31 January 2001

As a teenager, Jonathan Briese had first-aid training, both as an Eagle Scout and a volunteer Fairfax County firefighter. His father is a paramedic and author of textbooks on emergency response. His brother is a firefighter and paramedic.

But when Briese suffered an allergic reaction in a McLean doctor’s office last year, he didn’t get the basic lifesaving help he needed until paramedics arrived, his family said. Within an hour, the promising 20-year-old cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy was dead.

It was supposed to be a simple procedure — outpatient laser hair removal. He’d undergone one treatment. His father had checked out the clinic. “It was a no-brainer,” said Garry Briese, Jonathan’s father. But when he was given a combination of a pain reliver, a relaxant and an anesthetic cream, something went wrong.

Even worse, the Brieses claim, only one doctor — and no nurses or other support staff — was around to help in a moment of crisis. Late last week, the Brieses filed a lawsuit against the clinic’s owners, plastic surgeons Csaba L. Magassy and B. Scott Teunis, and the doctor who was to perform the removal, James J. Donohue IV. The suit alleges wrongful death, negligent hiring and supervision of Donohue, and false advertising in the clinic’s claims that Magassy would supervise and direct the procedure.

Magassy and Donohue yesterday expressed regret over Briese’s death. Teunis did not return a phone message seeking comment.

“I did the best I could and called 911 when it happened,” Donohue said. “I guess I’ll just explain that in court. I never had anything like this happen.”

Magassy said he was out of the country when the incident occurred, but that “full resuscitation equipment was available in the office. . . . I wish I would have been there to help the kid.”

In addition to making Eagle Scout at 15 and working as a volunteer firefighter, he was on the swim team and involved in student conflict mediation at Lake Braddock High School in Burke.

At the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, he played on the lacrosse team, marched with the drill team and helped train and supervise younger cadets. The academy plans to name a leadership award after him. More than 1,000 people attended his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

“He wasn’t here just to pass through,” said his mother, Roni Briese. “He wanted to leave his mark.”

Jonathan Briese and his older brother, Oren, grew up around public servants. Their father was a firefighter in Florida, and the family moved to Fairfax County in 1985 when Garry Briese was hired as executive director of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Garry Briese has written and lectured about emergency medical care, and in one of his textbooks, “First Responder,” Briese served as a model in photographs depicting how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Briese also liked to do things his own way, whether it was applying to colleges or looking into hair removal. Friends who swam and played lacrosse with Briese teased him about his hairy back, and he was self-conscious about it, his parents said. When he learned of laser hair removal, which requires only the burning of hair follicles, Briese researched it, then began visiting doctor’s offices.

In December 1999, he visited the McLean offices of Plastic Surgery Associates, Magassy and Teunis’s firm. The firm had advertised in various publications, and his mother had given him a list of questions to ask the doctors.

“If we’re willing to let him risk his life in the Coast Guard,” his mother said, “we should let him choose his own doctor.”

After spending about 40 minutes at Plastic Surgery Associates, he called home and said it looked good. He was planning to have his first treatment later that afternoon.

Briese wasn’t given any drugs on his first visit, his father said. When he came home, “he was ecstatic. He had a clear back.” He made another appointment for February 2000, on a weekend when he’d be home from the academy.

After having lunch with his father on Feb. 19, he went back to Plastic Surgery Associates. The lawsuit alleges that Donohue was the only doctor present and that he sent the only other staffer — a nurse — home. The doctor’s notes say that he gave Briese Xanax, a relaxant, and Lortab, a pain reliever, the lawsuit claims.

While Donohue was applying an anesthetic cream, he noticed Briese lower his head and begin to snore before losing consciousness. The lawsuit alleges that Briese’s breathing slowed, that he vomited and that Donohue tried to clear his airway before leaving the room to call 911. The Brieses claim no CPR or other lifesaving treatment was administered by the doctor.

Paramedics arrived within minutes and began CPR, intravenous and cardiac treatment, and then rushed Briese to Inova Fairfax Hospital. Twelve minutes after he arrived there, he was dead.

The medical examiner ruled that Briese had died of anaphylaxis, or an allergic reaction. “Anaphylaxis is usually manageable if it’s caught,” Garry Briese said. “The bigger question is, once he got into difficulty, what was the response? What happened between when he walked in the office and when 911 was called? From my perspective, it’s unexplainable. It really is.”

Magassy, a board-certified plastic surgeon, said that his office had not had a death in 28 years, but that “this really wasn’t us.” He said Donohue was renting space from his firm.

“I don’t blame the parents for suing,” Magassy said. “I’d sue, too.”


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