SAN BENITO — A 7-year-old San Benito girl who collapsed outside her school this week died from asphyxiation caused by choking on a balloon lodged in her throat, according to the preliminary autopsy report.
Ruby Ramirez collapsed in front of Sullivan Elementary School Monday afternoon and died Tuesday morning at Valley Baptist Medical Center, officials said.
“Apparently during the autopsy this morning they discovered a party balloon in her airway,” Assistant Police Chief Michael Galvan said Wednesday.
“For whatever reason she must have put (the balloon) in her mouth, as kids do, and when she was running to mama it appears that it may have gone back into her throat, causing her to choke.”
The preliminary autopsy report lists the cause of death as asphyxia due to “internal (blockage) of airway by balloon.”
“We are still trying to piece everything together. We are still trying to find out if there were any activities involving balloons or things like that, or she might have brought it from home,” police Det. Rogelio Banda said.
“That is something that might be revealed during the course of the investigation,” he said. “But as far as we know right now, so far what we have is just a possible case of asphyxiation.”
Police are awaiting the toxicology report, which is pending, he said.
“They are trying to examine the content of her stomach, (to) make sure there are no other causes of death that might have contributed,” Banda said.
The family of the little girl is shocked and confused about how this could happen, the family’s spokesman, Pastor Jay De La Cruz, said. He is the pastor at Iglesia Cristiana Fuego De Dios, (Fire of God Christian Church) at 345 W. Robertson St., which the family attends.
The child’s mother had come to pick her up about 2 p.m. Monday, De La Cruz said. Ruby was playing with the other children and the mother turned to speak with a fellow church member for a moment. When she turned back, she couldn’t see Ruby.
“Her daughter was face down on the ground,” De La Cruz said. “They picked her up to do CPR and the moment they are doing CPR Ruby starts to vomit out blood, which is weird because you don’t spit out blood because you fall down.”
Galvan said she injured her lips and mouth when she fell.
“As far as her vomiting up blood and all that, no. What happened is she collapsed when she was running because she fainted,” Galvan said.
Ruby fainted and fell forward, injuring her lips and mouth from striking the pavement, he said. When the girl was rolled over, the adults at the scene realized she was unconscious. Blood in her mouth rushed into her throat, and she started coughing.
De La Cruz said he believed it was the school nurse who rushed to help the child.
“They say she had no pulse,” he said, but rescuers started CPR, “so that her little heart could react to it.” The ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital.
He added that he learned that sometime between the time the she collapsed and 7:30 p.m. Ruby had a heart attack.
He spoke to a doctor who did not speculate on the cause of death, Galvan said.
The San Benito school district has turned the case over to the San Benito Police Department.
“They didn’t want anybody coming back and claiming a cover-up or anything like that,” Galvan said. “As soon as we took over the case we did contact Child Protective Services.”
He said officers have been conducting interviews and are obtaining videos of the girl when she collapsed.
“We’ve already got some video, but we’re getting more videos from different angles, so we want the clearest picture possible,” he said.