Choking death of 5-year-old Fort Worth girl ruled accidental

It was a family gathering of the worst kind as relatives gathered Friday to plan the funeral for a five-year-old who choked to death at a Fort Worth school.

Belen Maldonado died suddenly on Thursday after she choked and had problems breathing during lunch at Worth Heights Elementary.

“She choked on whatever she was eating,” said Lucy Gonzalez, Maldonado’s sister. “They called from school and my mom and my sister went over there and then they told me it was more serious and I headed that way.”

The medical examiner determined the choking was accidental.

“I could give anything to have her here. I would give anything,” Gonzalez said.

A district spokesman says all staff members are trained to use CPR, AED's and the Heimlich maneuver. He would not say which of those procedures, or if all of them, were used on Belen - citing privacy concerns. But he added that faculty in the cafeteria immediately sprang into action.

“People tied to help and they did help but it was too late,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez knows her little sister's death was an accident, but wants the district to offer additional training to its employees.

Maldonado's father said his little girl meant the world to him and that he and his wife are heartbroken.

“She was everything for me….everything for me,” Jose Maldonado said.

Maldonado's sister is trying to hold the family together.

“I'll always miss her…I don't wish this to anybody, nobody ever,” Gonzalez said.

Family members are collecting donations for her funeral at www.gofundme.com/sweet-baby-belen-maldonado

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