Police in Illinois said a 12-year-old girl was killed Sunday and her 9-year-old friend injured after a snowbank they built near a church collapsed on them.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office reportedly determined Esther Jung died of asphyxia and hypothermia which occurred when she became trapped under a snowbank. Citing police, the Chicago Tribune reported that the pair left their families Rothem Church to play outside; relatives found them buried in the snow after not hearing from them for an hour.
Reports indicated that temperatures were well below freezing — 14 degrees in Arlington Heights on Sunday afternoon.
The surviving girl’s great-uncle told ABC 7 that the 9-year-old was not completely buried and managed call out for help. Jung was reportedly found in cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead. Meanwhile, her friend was hospitalized for hypothermia and released from the hospital Monday, according to the news station.
“She cried out, ‘Help me. Help me,’ but nobody heard it,” the surviving girl’s uncle said.
Arlington Heights police said relatives were able to pull the girls from the snow before emergency crews arrived. Seargent Charles Buczynski told the Chicago Tribune that nobody saw the fort collapsed.
Buczynski also said they don’t suspect foul play had a role in Jung’s death, which coroners deemed was accidental.
A neighbor told the Daily Herald that Jung was the youngest of three children. The Herald also reported that Jung’s father was a pastor at the Koran-American church the family attended Sunday.
“It’s just a tragic accident,” Buczynski said.
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