Tragedy struck a preschool in the town of Kiryat Gat Sunday afternoon, when a 3-year old boy choked while playing in a playground sandbox. Attempts by emergency first responders and hospital staff to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, and the boy was ultimately declared dead.
Officials say the boy, a member of the Belz Hassidic community, apparently choked on sand which he or another child had placed in his mouth. A preschool teacher who noticed the boy exhibiting signs of distress called for emergency medical assistance.
“I got a phone call from a preschool teacher who said that one of the children playing in the sandbox was feeling ill, and had told [her] that sand had gone into his mouth,” said United Hatzalah paramedic Haim Matzliah.
Matzliah, the first emergency medical responder to arrive at the scene, said the child had already passed out by the time he reached the school. MDA paramedics who treated the boy reported that he was not breathing and had no heartbeat.
The boy was evacuated in critical condition by an MDA ambulance to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Police opened an investigation into the child’s death and are examining the possibility that negligent staff members may be criminally liable for the tragedy.
Four members of the preschool staff, including three teachers and the school administrator, were detained by police for questioning, a police spokesperson said Sunday evening. The four staff members have since been released to house arrest.
“Israel Police investigators detained staff members for interrogation, and they gave their version of the story,” a statement released by the police read.
“At the end of the initial interrogation, they were released to full house arrest for a period of five days. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.”