Grieving Parents Sue Birthday Party Hosts After Daughter Chokes to Death on Marshmallow

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MarshmallowsThis April, an 11-year-old girl from Massachusetts died after choking on a marshmallow at a friend’s birthday party. It was a shock and a tragedy. Now her parents are suing the parents who hosted the party, alleging that their carelessness caused their daughter’s death.

According to the New York Daily News, 11-year-old Azriel Estabrooks was at a party Raymond and Alison Dugan were holding for their daughter’s birthday when she was reportedly discovered unconscious on the floor. The Dugans called Estabrooks’ mother and said Azriel had passed out and she needed to come back, and when Iris Estabrooks arrived there were paramedics there and her daughter was unconscious.

The Dugans called 911 when they found Azriel, but it sounds like nobody realized she was choking until the paramedics got there and removed the marshmallow. By that point, it was too late. She’d been without oxygen for too long, and she died five days later in the hospital.

A police investigation ruled Azriel’s death an accident and said they found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the Dugans’ part, but the Estabrooks have filed a civil suit against the other parents for wrongful death and infliction of emotional distress. In their suit, they assert that it was negligent of the Dugans to serve foods that could be choking hazards, and they allege that there was not adequate supervision for the children. The Estabrooks are seeking unspecified monetary damages, but Iris Estabrooks said that what she really wants is answers about how and why this could have happened to her daughter.

“I don’t have any answers, and that’s what I’d like. Answers,” she said. That’s understandable, of course. In the face of a senseless tragedy like this, we always look for answers. But those answers just might not exist.

The lawsuit is reportedly moving forward, but the other parents and their lawyer have not commented on the case. It’s all just so unbelievably sad.

(Photo: Wikimedia/AndyJohnson)