Grieving parents sue hosts of birthday party where their child choked to death

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Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death. Every five days, a child dies from choking.

The death of 11-year-old Azriel Estrabrooks from Rhode Island was an unexpected tragedy. She was at a neighbour’s birthday party when she choked on marshmallow, fell down the stairs, and hit her head.

According to initial reports, Azriel was rushed to the Hasbro Children’s Hospital where doctors spent a few days trying to save her life, but eventually she died five days later.

New reports on this story revealed that Azriel’s family filed a wrongful death suit in the Bristol County Superior Court in Taunton, Massachusetts, seeking unspecified damages for both their daughter’s suffering and their own.

The court documents said that the hosts “failed to, in advance of the party, carefully review food choices to assure that nothing dangerous would be available to the young children, specifically, but not limited to, marshmallows.”

Not only that, the lawsuit also claims that the hosts failed to “have an adult present who was trained or skilled in clearing the airway of a choking child.”

It also claims that they failed to “specifically plan and carry out a protocol that would assure that no young child could wander off without being noticed.”

Azriel’s parents decided to sue because they still have so many questions left unanswered regarding their daughter’s death.

“When a healthy, normal child goes to a birthday party and ends up choking to death, questions of supervision and response to the emergency naturally arise,” said Steven P. Sabra, Estrabrooks’s attorney.

Find out what you can do when a child chokes

He said that the case is a “reminder of how diligent parents and caretakers need to be” when it comes to caring for children in their care.

Marshmallows are also considered a serious choking hazard to children.

Because it is made with sugar and starch, it easily sticks to the back of one’s throat once it gets wet. It can also slip down one’s windpipe, cutting off one’s the ability to breathe.

National Safety Council states that choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death. Every five days, a child dies from choking.

What to do when a child chokes

  • Give up to five back blows. Hit them firmly on their back between the shoulder blades. If back blows do not dislodge the object: This creates a strong vibration and pressure in the airway, which is often enough to dislodge the blockage.
  • Give up to five abdominal thrusts. Hold the child around the waist and pull upwards and inwards above their belly button: Abdominal thrusts squeeze the air out of the lungs and may dislodge the blockage
  • If abdominal thrusts do not dislodge the object, repeat steps one and two
  • Call emergency hotlines if the object has not dislodged after three cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts


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Written by

James Martinez