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Seven-year-old girl on life support after choking on lunch at school: Mother has more questions than answers

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BROOKLYN -- A seven-year-old girl is on life support after choking on her lunch at school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Noelia Echavarria, a second-grader, has been declared brain dead -- and her mother says there are more questions than answers in this case.

"I want the school to really, really come and give me the answer. I want them to tell me the reason they let my daughter be like that in the hospital. And nobody's coming to tell me," Ana Santiago said.

Last Wednesday, October 21st, a Public School 250 official saw Noelia choking -- and rushed outside, flagging down an EMT working for a private company. The New York Daily News says the EMT was in his ambulance at a red light.

The EMT ran into the school and worked to clear the girl's airway.

An attorney for Noelia's family says he's concerned about the amount of time it took to call 911 in this case.

"With the little information we have, it appears there was a 911 phone call at about 2:30. But that’s the same time that the EMT called 911. And if that’s the case, that means he’s the first person to call 911. And if he’s the first person to call 911, then the school did not," David Perecman said.

Officials with the Department of Education have released a statement saying they believe faculty responded swiftly, but they continue to monitor this situation.

The New York Daily News is reporting school staffers called Noelia's mother, who called the girl's uncle. The girl's uncle then found the girl lying on the floor in a hallway at the school -- lifeless and covered in blood, surrounded by school staffers who wouldn't touch her.

This, before the school staffer flagged down the EMT.

The EMT told the New York Daily News: "She was unresponsive. Her face was blue. Nobody was doing anything. She was definitely choking. I cleared the airway.”

According to the New York Daily News, the EMT has been suspended from his job indefinitely because he left a patient with his partner (a nursing home aide) in an ambulance when he rushed into the school after he was flagged down.

The New York Daily News says the patient was an elderly man in stable condition -- being transported to a nursing home from an eye clinic.

“Our whole family is in pain and nobody is saying anything. This is a girl who woke up every morning not wanting to miss a day of school," the girl's uncle told the New York Daily News.

Noelia Echavarria is not expected to recover.

Google Map for coordinates 40.708116 by -73.957070.


  • gary

    How the hell are they gonna suspend him indefinitely for clearing that little girls airway and school officials refused to touch her to clear her airway I feel the emt should get his job back and those school officials should be suspended indefinitely somebody contact me so I can get them suspended

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  • KimmyJ

    He should have been suspended. It’s a tough call to make as valid points can be made from both sides; however, one must try to be objective. The EMT driver was not already on the premises. He was on the highway, transporting a patient. The patient in his care was his top priority. In order for him to help the little girl, whom I acknowledge was in grave danger, the EMT driver not only pulled off the highway, by but got out and left his patient and the van unattended. Anything, at that point, could have happened. Someone could have stolen the van, the patient, out of curiosity, could have unbuckled himself and tried to exit the van to see what’s going on and could have seriously hurt himself. When you are on a call, that’s your call, you don’t deviate. With the way things are in this world today, the person approaching the EMT driver for help could have had the mindset to act like there’s an emergency just to hijack the van. Had he been able to successfully assist the little girl and she suffered no permanent injuries, he would have been hailed a hero; however, he still would have broken protocol. Rules are in place for a reason and it’s for everyone’s safety that they are followed. Had something happened to his patient he was transporting that would have been a hefty lawsuit and his family would have been beside themselves with grief.

    • beeber22

      The ambulance was not unattended. There was another driver in the van with the patient. They didn’t get off the highway, they were already stopped at a red light. Read the article before you comment.

    • Kate

      “Just one of those things…..” Are you out of your mind???? Was there NOBODY in that school who knows BASIC life saving techniques??? CPR…….?????
      Would that be your opinion if it was your daughter, granddaughter, niece?????

  • Susan Leeth

    Every school should have someone trained in Heimlich maneuver and other airway clearing methods in every cafeteria for just such situations. Praying for the family and friends of this young lady, very tragic. The EMT did the right thing and should not be penalized under these circumstances.

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