Jasmine Kripalani Reporting
MARGATE (CBS4) ― Gabriel Myers, the 7-year-old foster child found hanging in his foster family’s Margate home, appears to have died by hanging from a shower hose in the bathroom, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
It’s unclear if the child’s death was a suicide, but child welfare authorities told the newspaper it would be an unprecedented tragedy.
Police were called to the home on the 6500 block of NW 9th Street at around 1:37 pm Thursday. Paramedics rushed the child to Northwest Medical Center where he died at 2:45 pm.
Child welfare officials told the newspaper the foster father’s 19-year-old son had been watching the boy who had stayed home sick. He became upset about his lunch and ran up to the bathroom and that’s where the 19-year-old son found him with a shower hose wrapped around his neck. He immediately dialed 9-1-1.
“He’s been with (the family) for a little bit,” said Officer Vonley Williams. “He’s been with them for about 3 weeks.”
Police also told the newspaper that the foster parents and their 19-year-old son have been cooperating with the police investigation. The foster mother is a registered nurse and the boy’s foster father is an assistant principal at a school for special needs children.
Gabriel entered the foster care program after officials found him in a car with his passed-out mother, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The incident happened in June of 2008 in Hallandale Beach.
The newspaper reported that following that incident, Gabriel was sent to live with an aunt and uncle. But they reportedly could not care for him because of his severe tantrums. Another foster family also said they could not handle him.
Gabriel was scheduled to move to Ohio in a few weeks where he would live with his paternal grandfather. That’s also where the child’s mother is incarcerated. It’s unknown where the child’s father is.
Neighbors told CBS4’s Carey Codd the family has two children living in the home. Both boys were seen in the neighborhood often, playing football, riding their bikes or riding skateboards. Neighbor Wayne Bernstein said he didn’t see the 7-year-old often but when he did the child was in good spirits.
“He was happy, playing around,” Bernstein said. “We can hear — usually there’s a number of children over there playing in the pool.”
Childnet, the agency in charge of child welfare in Broward County, is investigating the death. A spokesperson told CBS4 they are reviewing the child’s history with the agency.
“This is such a tragic, tragic event,” said Sasheika Eugent, Childnet’s Community and Public Relations Specialist.” We’re deeply saddened. We launched this internal investigation to determine that we took the appropriate steps to ensure the child’s safety.”
Childnet could not tell CBS4 if they removed any children from the home after the boy died.