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Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News
Grief counselors are at a Dallas elementary school helping children cope with the sudden death of a 4-year-old classmate who died after choking.
A 4-year-old pre-kindergarten student died Thursday after choking on food at Mount Auburn Elementary School.
The Dallas Independent School District said workers in the cafeteria saw and heard Manny Ramirez choking. They immediately called 911, performed the Heimlich maneuver and gave him CPR, the district said.
A nurse was able to dislodge the food from Ramirez's throat, DISD said. At that point, he became responsive, the color returned to his face, and he started talking.
DISD said Ramirez then started to have some type of seizure and his heart stopped. Paramedics tried to revive the boy, but he died at the hospital.
The district sent a letter home to parents letting them that the staff at the school did everything they could to save Ramirez.
"They heard him coughing, and they saw that he was in trouble, he was in distress," DISD spokeswoman Rebecca Rodriguez said. "They came to his aid and, from that point on, they were with him every minute and they actually called for help and called the nurse, and they did what they were trained to do. We're going to hope that parents understand, at that point, that he was never alone during this incident."
At least one parent told NBC 5 they don't blame the school for what happened.
"I mean, if you have small children, a lot of times they’re in a rush to get outside and go play and sometimes you have to slow them down," said parent Elva Tapia. "There really isn’t anybody there that’s right over them. I mean, they do have monitors and teachers in the cafeteria, but I mean there’s a lot of kids there. They can’t be one on one."
Parents also said were glad they were told about the incident so they could talk to their children.
"The first thing is obviously I’m very sad to whoever’s kid that was and the second thing is if my son was there to see it – that’s why I just asked him now and I guess he was. He seems fine by it, but obviously he’s at an age where he doesn’t understand it," said Felix Salazar. "I don’t want him to ever experience something like that again, to see that."
Superintendent Mike Miles said grief counselors would be at the school for staff and students.
Editor's Note: It was originally reported that the child was 5 years old. NBC 5 has now learned the child was 4 years old. We regret the error.