The post mortem results in the death of Sabrina Almendarez has been released and confirms that the 12 year old died as a result of bleeding and swelling of the brain. According to pathologist Dr. Hugh Sanchez, the findings are consistent with “blunt trauma to the right forehead.” Sabrina was found motionless in her bed on Friday morning, after experiencing days of constant fever and headache. Sabrina was an athlete, who participated regularly in sporting activities and so her family believes that the injuries may have been sustained on the field. We spoke with her family’s attorney, Ms. Audrey Matura Shepherd on Wednesday morning.
“Like the family said, they never knew what cause her death and so the post mortem was important. There was also the post mortem which is rather alarming because what has been revealed is that she died from Bronchial Aspiration. What the doctor explained to us is that she had a trauma in her head. As a result of that trauma in her head, her brain was bleeding and the brain was swollen and as the brain got more and more swollen and the blood filled the cavity of the skull, it pressed down on the organs of her head and then that went to her tracheae and as a result of that, she suffocated. The secondary reasons which the other observation was on the left hand side of her body close to her lungs and liver and kidney, there is a massive injury, but the interesting thing is that the doctor and the family, we never saw any external injury and we don’t know how to explain that away”.
The fever and the headaches Sabrina suffered, says the pathologist, are consistent with his findings. But as Matura-Shepherd pointed out, the Almendarez family could not have imagined that her symptoms would prove fatal.
Ms. Audrey Matura: “The fever and the headache would have been a telling sign but they didn’t know of any injury, they didn’t panic. It’s a like any mother when your kid says, mom, I have a headache, and you give him, your home medication. After two or there days, you take them to a doctor. She began explaining her headaches the Wednesday, Thursday, she was okay after she got Tylenol and stuff…by Friday she died. In speaking with the pathologist, he said, yes, that would have been the sign that the swelling was getting more and was not fitting in the skull anymore was that the bleeding was a very impacting on her, but honestly, there was absolutely no way, this family could have expected that”.
Four days prior to her passing, Sabrina received a tetanus shot at the Independence Primary School, administered by the Health Department. The symptoms that followed led some to speculate that perhaps she experienced a reaction to the vaccination. However with today’s autopsy revelation, is that presumption still a likelihood? We asked Attorney Matura-Shepherd.
Ms. Audrey Matura: “Honestly was never a theory from the family. I don’t know how that went spreading like wildfire. Yes, she did a tetanus shot, but at this point the doctor has not shown us anything to say that that is related; it is not to the best of our knowledge. The truth is that the doctor took some specimens and that will be examined. Like the death certificate said, the trauma in her head is blunt forced; it had to be hit, an example and a theory that the family has. When practicing for softball, if a ball would have hit her in her head. At a grave speed, it could have caused a severe jerking in the head which is resulted in the bleeding, but it doesn’t have to be overnight. There could have been a slow bleeding and eventually to a point where it became fatal. It is just a theory. When you ask the doctor all sorts of questions, he is very upfront that at this point, he is studying further and doesn’t have a full conclusion how a blunt trauma force injury seen internally, but nothing being seen externally”.
It has been a nightmare of a week for the Almendarez’s family, a family left tonight with more questions than answers.
Ms. Audrey Matura: “The reaction of the family has bee devastating because although they never knew what caused her death, which should have happened it a little bit of time, went unnoticed and thus, the grave result. The family is in totally in shock and disbelief. They themselves want to know what would have caused it. It’s not been easy. As a matter of fact just her dying wasn’t easy. Now, knowing the cause, they keep questioning, How? Why? She is a U. S. citizen by birth living in Belize. Her family met with the U.S. embassy; I can’t reveal all the details of what was said, but one o f the important things is what the U.S. embassy recommended. to hire an attorney to help to deal with this situation and expedite a post mortem, because the post mortem would have been put off another day. The urgency of the matter is required that if there was any connection with any chemicals that was injected, the evidence would have disappeared. It was just being cautious and the family was just following advice”.
The family says that they will continue to assist in the Police investigation. We are told that authorities intend to visit the school she attended to inquire about any injuries she may have sustained while playing sports. As her team’s star pitcher, Sabrina led the squad to two consecutive championships.