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‘It Could Happen to Anybody.’ A 4-Year-Old Boy Accidentally Hanged Himself in a Dressing Room

2 minute read

A 4-year-old Minnesota boy died after he accidentally hanged himself inside a thrift store’s dressing room, authorities and his family said.

Ryu Pena suffocated after the hood of his sweatshirt got caught on a hook on the wall when he was playing by himself on a stool inside a fitting room Saturday, according to NBC News. The boy’s airway was cut off, Jeremy Clifton, a commander at the Mankato Police Department, told the news outlet.

Ryu was shopping with his grandmother, Julia Gonzalez, who was trying on clothes in an adjacent dressing room during the accident. Gonzalez told KSTP-TV she went searching for Ryu in the store’s clothing racks, where he was known to hide, when she realized he was missing. A worker at the store found him dangling from the hook unconscious about 5:30 p.m. It’s unclear how long he was hanging.

Ryu’s mother, Denise Gonzalez, said her son was adventurous and playful and loved to jump. She harbors no anger toward her mother or the store and says the death was a tragic accident. “It was a game to him,” the single mom told KSTP-TV. “It was an accident. He was playing, doing what he loved best.”

“Everyone who has children knows they like to play, and everyone knows he was just playing,” she told NBC News. “It could happen to anybody.”

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