A 7-year-old girl is on life support after family members say she choked on food during lunch at her Brooklyn school last week.
Noelia Echaverria, a second-grader at P.S. 250 in Williamsburg, choked on food at school last Wednesday and is now brain dead, according to family, but her mother says she has faith the child will pull through.
"I know at the bottom of my heart that she will live because I can feel it," her mother Ana Santiago said.
Qwaise Reid, a paramedic for a private company, was transporting a patient back to a nearby nursing home in an ambulance when he stumbled upon the chaotic scene. Reid was stopped at a red light when a school safety officer and another person started banging on his door for help.
"I seen the 7- to 8-year-old on the floor, blue in the lips," Reid said.
He said children and adults were crowded around Echaverria, who was not breathing or talking, and had foam coming out of her mouth.
Reid and the girl’s family said they think the school could have acted more quickly in calling 911.
"I believe no one called 911 before they came to me, because they would most likely have been there before me," Reid said.
FDNY said the department received the call at 2:33 p.m. and was at the school less than five minutes later.
NBC 4 New York asked the Department of Education how quickly 911 was called and it said the school followed protocol by calling 911 and the girl’s parents, but did not offer further explanation.
Uncle Alexis Santiago said he went back to the school to ask what had happened to his niece but didn’t get any answers.
"The principal, the dean, the security guards… They closed the door and said, 'Go to the hospital to find out,'" Alexis Santiago said.
The girl’s family has hired an attorney to represent them during the investigation.