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Brooklyn girl who choked at school dies; family gears up for lawsuit

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WILLIASMBURG, Brooklyn — A 7-year-old Brooklyn girl who had been brain dead for days after choking on food at school, has died.

Noelia-Lisa  Echaverria died Friday night at NYU Langone Medical Center where she was taken on Oct. 21 after choking on food at P.S. 250 in Williamsburg.

“That’s my best friend.  I was her best friend.  We’re always together,” sobbed the girl’s mother, Ana Santiago.

Compounding the family’s heartbreak, as they wait for autopsy results and make funeral arrangements, are lots of unanswered questions.

On Saturday, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina expressed her condolences to the family in the following statement:

“I’m heartbroken that we’ve lost such a promising young life.  My prayers are with Noelia’s family, whose pain I can only imagine.  Her school and her community will always remember her.”

Alex Santiago rushed to the school that day, and saw his niece lying in a hallway near the cafeteria.   He said the only one who came to the aid of the child was EMT Qwasie Reid who coincidentally was by the school and was flagged down for help.

“What happened to my niece?  Somebody, please tell me who’s in charge, who was here,” the child’s uncle said he remembers crying out at the time.  He said no one responded.

The family wants to know if Noelia-Lisa was being properly supervised when she choked, and if anyone from the school called 911 before EMT Reid did.  The Department of Education has said “the principal and faculty responded swiftly to the emergency.”

David Perecman, the attorney for the family, said he filed a Notice of Claim on Friday.  That is the first step in bringing a lawsuit against the city for negligence.

Outside the Williamsburg Houses where Noelia-Lisa was growing up, friends and family members lit candles, and posted get well cards from classmates.

Noelia-Lisa wanted to be a princess on Halloween.  To everyone whose life she touched, she already was.