An innocent childhood pastime turned into a deadly nightmare for little Ki'ari Pope after her cousin dared her to drink boiling water through a straw, and she acquiesced.
On Sunday, July 30, Ki'ari told her mother's partner that she was struggling to breathe, and moments later the eight-year-old lost consciousness. The little girl was rushed to a nearby hospital where she succumbed to the wounds she had suffered months earlier.
The Palm Beach Post reported that Ki'ari had sustained severe burns to her mouth and throat in March this year when her cousin, also eight-years-old, convinced her to swallow searing hot water as part of a dare.
The Florida Department of Children and Families are conducting an ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Ki'ari's death. "The loss of this child is truly devastating, and our condolences go out to all those who loved her," said Department Secretary Mike Carroll in a statement on Wednesday.
"We have opened a child death investigation to examine the circumstances surrounding her death and will deploy a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team to review all interactions this family has had with Florida's child welfare system. We will also continue to work closely with law enforcement to support their continued efforts."After being admitted to a hospital in March, following the initial incident, Ki'ari received emergency surgery during which an incision was made into her windpipe - commonly known as a tracheotomy - just above her chest to allow her to breathe.
The operation resulted in Ki'ari going deaf in her left ear and left her with chronic respiratory problems.
Authorities in Boyton Beach, Florida, were notified of the little girl's death, but the Riviera Beach Police Department will be conducting a separate investigation as that is where the deceased resided and where the initial incident occurred.
State authorities have also confirmed that they will be looking into at least nine other reported cases of neglect and child abuse involving Ki'ari. Four of the reported incidents allegedly took place in the last seven months.
Five additional reports indicate that there are allegations of violence between Ki'ari's mother, Marquisia Bonner, and her boyfriend.
Because Ki'ari received a tracheotomy, the family's health insurance won't pay for her funeral arrangements. Therefore a GoFundMe.com page has been created to raise the necessary funds to give the child a proper burial.
A message on the page reads: "Ki'ari was dared to drink hot boiling water by a cousin that was the same age as her, [after] they [had] seen a video on YouTube."
[Featured Image by Stepan Popov/ThinkStock]