Fort Worth family speaks out after child's choking death at school

Choking death in a FWISD lunchroom

FORT WORTH -- A Fort Worth family believes the death of a 5-year-old girl at her elementary school from choking could've been prevented.

Pre-K student Belen Maldonado choked Thursday on food during lunch at Worth Heights Elementary School, her family said. They were called by school officials and rushed to Belen’s side, where she was being treated by a school nurse and paramedics. She died from aspiration of food, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.

"I'm not saying it's their fault that she choked, but if there was somebody that had the knowledge to help her, it could have been prevented," said her older sister, Lucy Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, 28, was like another parent to the 5-year-old full of life. She and the rest of her family are still trying to absorb the reality that Belen's gone. They believe her death didn't have to happen if there were more lunchroom monitors who were trained in first aid.

Fort Worth ISD didn't confirm the name of the student, but said a child at lunch was discovered in need of assistance. A district representative said all of its schools have personnel trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.

"In this particular case, our staff did all they could until professional help arrived," said district spokesman Clint Bond.

Bond told News 8 that the Worth Heights school family and the entire district family are saddened at the loss of a student.

"As many sorries as I hear, it doesn't bring Belen back home," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is now worried about the other kids who may have seen it happen, and she wants to share Belen's story to try and prevent an accident like this in the future.

"To me she's gold, to me she's silver, to me she's my life," she said. "I don't wish this to any parent or family member.  Nobody deserves this."

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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