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Cause of child’s death still unknown
Sheriff's office doesn't classify as suspicious

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The cause of a toddler’s death Monday still is not known, according to Henry County Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Winn, who declined to classify the death as suspicious at this point.

“The autopsy did not show any signs of injury,” Winn said Tuesday afternoon of the autopsy that was conducted that morning in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke, authorities have said.

The complete autopsy report is pending toxicology results, and the investigation is continuing.

“We are waiting on the results of toxicology” tests in hopes they will pinpoint the cause of the child’s death, Winn said. He anticipates those results will not be available for two to three months.

Winn declined to speculate further on the case.

Family members took the child to Memorial Hospital in Martinsville after the toddler became unresponsive, Winn said.

“We have a 3-year-old child that died, so that’s definitely something that we are always concerned with. Anytime there is something out of the norm like this, we are going to try and find out what caused it,” Winn said.

Because the autopsy — which he said “is routine with this being a small child” — did not show any signs of injury, Winn said the toxicology tests “are the only way we can determine what it was” that prompted the child’s death.

“If, for example, this was an elderly person, the Medical Examiner could look at the person’s prior health history” to help pinpoint the cause of death, whether it was heart disease or another illness that may be attributed to the cause of death, Winn said.

“But, with this being the death of a small child,” the health history is not as complete as an older person’s history, he said.

A news release issued Monday by the sheriff’s office stated that the Martinsville/Henry County Communications Center received a call from the hospital at 3:10 p.m. Monday in reference to a child who was unresponsive.

Officers responded to the call, and the child was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later, authorities have said.

In a document titled “Information For Physicians and Hospital On Infant And Child Deaths,” the Office of the Medical Examiner has general guidelines for hospitals to use when determining whether to contact authorities.

The document states that authorities should be contacted when an infant or child dies suddenly or unexpectedly without a known cause.

Anyone with any information about the child’s death is asked to contact the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 638-8751.


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