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Autopsy Fails to Find Cause of 2-Year-Old's Sudden Death

Tragedy: Jocelyn Hernandez died while attending a birthday party. The coroner plans to do more tests.

June 25, 1996|SCOTT HADLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

OXNARD — Family and friends of a 2-year-old girl said Monday they are as baffled as investigators about how the toddler died Saturday evening.

Jocelyn Hernandez died about 10 p.m. in her mother's arms while at a friend's birthday party.

The Ventura County coroner conducted an autopsy Sunday and did further tests Monday, but a cause of death has not been determined, a coroner's spokesman said.

"It has been ruled suspicious circumstances only because we don't have a cause of death yet," said Senior Officer Tom Chronister of the Oxnard Police Department.

"We won't know until they do some more tests, and that might take three days. Basically, we don't know why she died."

Nelson Perez, 57, had invited the girl and her parents, Gabriela Nieto and Rogelio Hernandez, to his 12-year-old daughter's birthday party.

"They were here for only about half an hour before it happened," Perez said.

The girl did not appear well and started vomiting soon after arriving at the party, he said.

"She was a funny color," Perez said. "Her mother was holding her close."

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As she grew sicker, her family called 911 and were told how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

When firefighters arrived, they found the mother attempting to resuscitate her daughter on Perez's front lawn in the 1700 block of Saratoga Street in Oxnard.

"They took her to the hospital and hooked her up to all kinds of machines, but she didn't start breathing again," Perez said.

The girl was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The girl's parents were too overwhelmed Monday to talk, said Santiago Hernandez, Jocelyn's uncle.

"They are very sad right now," Hernandez said. "They don't know why she died."

The young couple recently opened a produce store on Oxnard Boulevard called Nieto's Market, which sells specialty Mexican foods and produce, he said.

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