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Girl, 6, dies in accidental hanging

A 6-year-old girl was found hanging from a rope in her back yard by her mother Tuesday night and was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later. Stephanie Polomskey apparently had been playing on a rope hanging from a tree behind her home before her mother, Bonnie McVay, called her, then found the girl, said Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor.

No foul play is suspected, Shelor said Tuesday night. Detectives were investigating.

The rope, which had a large knot and ragged strands at the end, apparently had been used by the girl as a swing, Shelor said.

Stephanie had not responded to her mother's calls about 5:40 p.m. Tuesday, so Ms. McVay looked out a window and saw Stephanie hanging by the neck.

About the same time, a neighbor also saw Stephanie, Shelor said. The neighbor started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), while the mother called paramedics.

Sunstar Ambulance Service spokesman Chuck Kearns said a Sunstar paramedic and a Clearwater firefighter used CPR on Stephanie during the 17-minute ride to Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater from the girl's home at 1572 Madison Ave., also in Clearwater.

"As soon as they saw the patient and her condition, they just grabbed her and ran," Kearns said.

Police had not determined how Stephanie got tangled in the rope. Her feet were not touching the ground when she was found, Shelor said. A folding chair was lying a few feet from the rope, but police couldn't confirm Tuesday whether Stephanie climbed on the chair to reach the rope, Shelor said.

Barbara Williams, a neighbor who lives across the street, said Stephanie used to play with her grandson on a swing set in her back yard.

"She was a sweet little girl," Ms. Williams said. "She always rolled her Big Wheel up here."

Ms. Williams' fiance sold the swing set to Stephanie's mother, she said, after her grandson outgrew it.

Several family members and friends gathered outside Stephanie's home late Tuesday. They declined to comment.

The paramedics and firefighters who answered the call also were shaken up, Kearns said.