Parents of 11-Year-Old Girl Who Choked to Death on Marshmallow at Party Sue Hosts
An 11-year-old Massachusetts girl who died in April after choking on a marshmallow at a party would still be alive if it weren't for the hosts’ carelessness, her parents have alleged in a lawsuit filed this week.
Jason and Iris Estabrooks claim their daughter Azriel and other children at Raymond and Alison Dugan’s Somerset home were not properly looked after and were provided foods that could be a choking hazard, according to the suit, filed on Monday.
“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,” Steven Sabra, the attorney representing the Estabrooks, said in a statement.
Azriel had been invited to the Dugans’ home for a birthday party they were throwing for their daughter on April 16.
Though she often stayed at parties that her daughter attended, Iris Estabrooks was assured by the Dugans that she could leave Azriel at the home and come back later, Sabra told InsideEdition.com.
“She then got a call about an hour later that there had been some sort of problem and to come back right away,” he said. “She came back to find her daughter on the floor.”
Azriel had ingested a marshmallow that became lodged in her throat, causing her to pass out, according to a complaint filed by Sabra.
“After suffering the pain and fear of choking and an inability to breath and an inability to speak, Azriel lost consciousness and fell to the ground,” the suit said.
It has also been claimed that Azriel went without oxygen for “an extended period of time” before she was found on the floor, and the hosts waited too long to call 911.
Emergency responders removed the marshmallow from Azriel’s throat and rushed the girl to Charlton Memorial Hospital before being transferred to Hasbro Children’s Hospital for specialized care, where she died on April 21.
The Estabrooks, who Sabra said together have two other children ages 6 and 9, are suing for wrongful death and conscious pain and suffering in connection to Azriel’s death.
Iris Estabrooks is also suing for negligent infliction of emotional distress after being called back to the house and witnessing Azriel’s choking.
“You know, since this happened, there’s been Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the Fourth of July — which the parents said was a real big weekend for Azriel,” Sabra said.
“Her mother — [Azriel was] in fifth grade so the teacher at the end of the school year had the mother go and clean out her desk, and all the kids in the class had written little notes to Azriel...” he paused. “I can barely talk about it.”
Azriel was "a very creative young girl," who enjoyed art, telling stories and loved the color purple, her obituary and a GoFundMe page created to offset burial costs noted.
She also enjoyed gardening with her parents, her obituary read.
Loved ones expressed their condolences and shared their memories of Azriel online.
"We have watched your children grow and can't imagine how difficult this is for all of you," one mourner wrote. "She was a beautiful little girl and a bright star in the neighborhood. You are all in our thoughts."
Police ruled Azriel’s death an accident and found no criminal wrongdoing on the hosts’ part, but the couple filed a civil suit to get answers to the many questions they have been left with, Sabra said.
“We don’t have all the answers,” Sabra said. “And that’s one of the important points of the [lawsuit] — the parents want to find out what happened and how it happened.”
The Dugans did not return InsideEdition.com's request for comment.