The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 9, 2013

Child’s choking death ruled a homicide

Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — The choking death of a three-year-old Ashtabula girl on Nov. 11 was a homicide, the Ashtabula County Coroner has ruled.

The child suffered from a medical condition that prevented her from swallowing solid foods, but on Nov. 11, a male relative cut up a hot dog at their Ashtabula home and fed it to the child, said Richard Mongell, chief investigator for the coroner’s office.

The child choked and died, according to information released by Mongell.

“It was not an accident,” he said, noting he was meeting with the family Tuesday.

A homicide is an interaction between two humans in which a death occurs.

Police haven’t filed charges in the case, but Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said his department has opened an investigation.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, hot dogs are the No. 1 food linked with choking in children because of their small wind pipes.

A three-year-old child’s wind pipe is about the size of a drinking straw.

A piece of hot dog is round, airway sized and compressible, which allows it to wedge tightly in the air passageway.

Other risky foods include hard candy, peanuts, seeds, whole grapes, raw carrots, apples, popcorn, chunky peanut butter, marshmallows, gum and sausages.

More than 10,000 children under 14 will go to the emergency room this year from choking on food.

One child dies in the U.S. every five days from choking on food.

Children also should never put balloons in their mouths.