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Tragic: A 7-Year-Old Girl Choked on Her School Lunch and Is Now Brain-Dead

The Short of It

It's every parent's worst nightmare, but Brooklyn mom Ana Iris Santiago can't wake up. Her 7-year-old daughter Noelia Echavarria choked on a public school lunch last week, and now the little girl has been declared brain-dead.

The Lowdown

First grader Noelia had complained in the past she felt rushed eating her lunch at PS 250 in Williamsburg, which is why her family thinks she may have started choking on a sandwich. Horribly, help came too late to save her.

In a letter to parents, Principal RoseAnn ­LaCioppa said, "Let me also assure you that all procedures were followed that day. Providing a safe learning environment for our students and staff is very important to us." A Department of Education statement issued Tuesday said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Noelia and her family and school community. Based on the information, we believe the principal and faculty responded swiftly to the emergency, notifying 911 and the student's family immediately. We continue to monitor the situation."

But an EMT who was flagged down outside the school to help isn't sure that anyone reacted quickly enough to help the choking child, claiming that no one was helping Noelia when he entered the school. And the family's lawyer says he is troubled by how long it took to call 911.

Now, the little girl remains at NYU Langone Medical Center where her family maintains hope for a miracle. Heartbreakingly, Santiago also required hospitalization, reportedly suffering multiple seizures after seeing her daughter on a ventilator.

The Upshot

I am the mom of a 7-year-old girl, and this story made me cry. It hits especially close to home because my daughter has also complained to me that her public school lunch period is too short, and she feels rushed to finish eating.

Truth be told, I contacted the principal of my daughter's school to bring this troubling incident to his attention, and inquire who in the lunchroom is CPR certified. I'd urge other concerned parents to do the same so we can avoid this tragedy from every happening to another child.

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