Tragedy in Austin
A seven-year-old boy at an Austin charter school was injured last Wednesday, and has now died.
A 7-year-old boy who was found unconscious hanging by his shirt on a dressing room coat hook died Friday, as police investigated whether he was the victim of abuse or an accident.
The boy was found Wednesday by a teacher at the Not Your Ordinary School charter campus for children in pre-kindergarten through third grade.
Austin police refused to immediately release the boy's name out of respect for his family's wishes, police spokeswoman Helena Putnam said.
"The Austin Police Department offers its heartfelt sympathy to the family, students teachers and school administrators during this tragic time," a police statement said.
School officials did not immediately respond to telephone and e-mail messages Friday.
The boy had been excused from an assembly to go to the bathroom. When he didn't return, staff went looking for him. They found him caught on the hook by his shirt. The shirt collar had cut off oxygen.
Police opened a criminal investigation on Thursday, citing "suspicious" circumstances on how the boy was found. Investigators interviewed students and staff.
By late afternoon, police also acknowleged that it could have been an accident. The hook was low enough for the boy to have placed himself there, although police did not rule out the possibility that he might have been assaulted.
The boy's pants were down to his ankles when he was found, but investigators said Thursday they had no evidence of sexual abuse and described no external injuries.
A statement posted on the school Web site on Wednesday said, "The safety of our students is our first priority. As information regarding this incident comes to light, we will determine what, if any, campus safety issues need to be addressed."
The school earned an exemplary rating, the highest possible, from the state for the 2006-2007 school year.
How very sad. Hopefully, if anyone knows any information, they will come forward.