Ruskin kindergartener dies after feeling sick at lunchtime

RUSKIN — A kindergartener who got sick during lunch Wednesday at Cypress Creek Elementary School collapsed and later died, authorities said.

Although the official cause of Jose Maria Pinto-Rosa's death had not been determined, investigators said it appeared to be the result of a medical condition.

Jose, 6, of Ruskin was in the lunchroom about 11 a.m. when he started to complain of feeling ill. A school employee walked the boy to the nurse's office, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

But after being in the clinic a few minutes, Jose collapsed, and school officials called 911, the Sheriff's Office said.

Fire-rescue crews transported the child to South Bay Hospital in Sun City, where he died shortly after he arrived, the Sheriff's Office said.

Speaking through an interpreter, the boy's parents told Bay News 9 that their child was happy and healthy when he left for the day.

"He was a good kid. A happy kid. Always in a good mood," father Victor Hudo-Pinto told the news station. Friends and family members were gathering at the parents' home to console them.

According to investigators, the boy suffered only from allergies. Authorities said they do not believe the child had the flu or any contagious illness.

"There were additional medical observations at the time of the incident that may explain the child's sudden death, but that information is not being released at this time," sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said in a statement.

Homicide detectives were conducting a death investigation, obtaining a medical history of the boy and interviewing family members and staff members of the school at 4040 19th Ave. NE.

The Sheriff's Office said preliminary information didn't uncover any sign of foul play. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Grief counselors will be at the school today.

A letter went home to parents, and principal Roy Moral sent an automated phone message in both English and Spanish.

"We're very grateful for EMS and their quick response and to everyone here on the staff who helped out," Moral said in the message to parents.

Members of the School Board received emails and phone calls from district staff about the incident throughout the afternoon.

Such quick notification has been a sensitive issue since board members found out about the death of special-needs student Isabella Herrera nine months after she went into respiratory distress last year on a school bus.

"At least progress has been made on that side," said board member Cindy Stuart, "although I hate to get a phone call like that."

Times staff writer Jessica Vander Velde contributed to this report.

Ruskin kindergartener dies after feeling sick at lunchtime 01/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 11:53pm]

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