The sheriff of the Florida county where a Honduran teen died in immigration custody last week said he had a cut on his tongue that may have been sustained during a seizure.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the autopsy report on 17-year-old Angel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza was not yet complete, but evidence was found during the investigation.
Maradiaga, who, according to his family, was an epileptic and had crossed the border without the company of a relative or guardian, died on May 10 at a hospital, at the Center for Unaccompanied Minor Migrants located in Safety Harbor After being found unconscious, a city west of Tampa, Florida.
According to what Gualtieri said, the youth did not tell the center that he was suffering from epilepsy or that he was taking medicine to treat it.
The sheriff said a relative who was going to care for Maradiaga when she left the center made a report warning her she had the disease, which went unnoticed, according to the television channel.
The teen reached the safety harbor on Friday, May 5, two days after crossing the US-Mexico border and coming under the control of authorities.
His mother, Norma Maradiaga, told 10 Tampa Bay Tuesday from Honduras that her son suffered from epilepsy, but “he was healthy, he was fine.”
“He was strong because he only played sports. He was a strong boy. I haven’t got a concrete answer about his death or what happened to him. The center hasn’t told me,” Norma Sarai told Local 10 channel. Maradiaga Espinoza said.
Gualtieri said the family, specifically a cousin who lives in Tampa and was his sponsor, had alerted Jewish Family and Community Services of the Gulf Coast (JFCS) about the teen’s epilepsy and susceptibility to seizures.
Agents found that JFCS had uploaded Angel’s medical records into its system, but center staff never reviewed them, meaning they were unaware of her epilepsy or possible seizures, according to the channel.
According to the teenager’s mother, her son had left home with his three-month supply of the drug and had it when he reached the US-Mexico border on May 3.
“He went away with his medicine in April. He had it,” Maradiaga Espinoza said.
While they waited for the autopsy to be completed, the teen’s family indicated that they wanted his body returned to Honduras quickly.
Her mother said, “What I need is for them to put their hand on their heart and answer me immediately about what happened because I need an explanation.”
The Honduran foreign minister, Eduardo Enrique Reina, demanded a “detailed investigation” into the minor’s death, as did a group of Republican congressmen led by Senator Rick Scott in a letter addressed to the US government.
“Sadly, our unaccompanied minor children immigrating to the United States have become a lucrative business for many child custody companies. We demand answers and an investigation into this tragedy,” said the September 15 Foundation, which monitors the Honduran community in the US.