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Florida boy, 15, dies after possible chemical exposure in his home

Chris Perkins, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

WEST PARK, Fla. — A 15-year-old boy died Wednesday after he was possibly exposed to a mysterious chemical in his West Park home, a day after he had been released from the hospital after feeling ill.

Relatives took the teen to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood on Tuesday, but he was released and sent home, according to Broward Sheriff’s spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright.

The boy’s father took him back to the hospital Wednesday because he still felt ill. He died there just after 9 a.m.

The Sheriff’s Office did not release the boy’s name. The hospital did not respond to requests for comment.

Exactly what killed the boy remains a mystery, with hazardous materials teams combing the home and investigating unidentified barrels outside.

Doctors were concerned because a strange odor, possibly gas, was coming from the boy’s body, Coleman-Wright said. The Sheriff’s Office responded by sending deputies and fire rescue to the house on Southwest 24th Street.

As one of the deputies left the house, he complained that he was having trouble breathing. He was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood.

Later, firefighters entered the house in full gear, and a firefighter sustained a second-degree burn. Coleman-Wright said she was unsure whether a liquid or other substance caused the burn. He, too, was taken to Memorial Regional.

 

Both the deputy and firefighter were expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office was calling the teen’s death suspicious, though they were still investigating the cause.

It’s too soon to know whether the odor from the boy’s body is linked to the house or to 55-gallon drums found outside, Coleman-Wright said.

“They may or may not even be involved in this investigation or exposure,” Coleman-Wright said. “We do know that the family they used those drums to transport products back and forth from here to Haiti.”

The hazmat teams were taking samples from the drums, Coleman-Wright said. “They’re looking at the drums, they’re also taking samples and testing them to try to analyze them, to figure out what exactly is this that we’re dealing with.

“Is this a hazardous chemical? Why did this child die? Why was the deputy overcome and having difficulty breathing? What caused those second-degree burns on the firefighter? We just don’t know at this point.”

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