Still no cause of death for boy who died in border patrol custody

Still no cause of death for boy who died in border patrol custody
Univision via CNN
Felipe Gomez Alonzo

Felipe Gomez Alonzo, the 8-year old boy who died in US custody on Christmas Eve, was laid to rest in Yalambojoch, Guatemala, his half-sister said on Monday.

Catarina Gomez described how one of Felipe’s friends reacted on Sunday upon seeing the coffin: “He was crying, upset that his friend had died.” Felipe’s body arrived back in his home country on Saturday, she said.

Timeline: The boy’s final days

The family has yet to receive any indication from American authorities as to what led to Felipe’s death, she said. A spokesman for the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator told CNN last month that the average time for a death investigation is six to 12 weeks, but it could take longer.

The office said last month that Felipe, who died in US Customs and Border Protection custody, had the flu, but no official cause of death has been released.

“My dad still doesn’t feel like himself after my brother’s death. (Felipe’s mother) cries every day. (He) was her firstborn,” Gomez said.

The boy’s father, Agustin Gomez Perez, is still in the United States, she said, but she isn’t sure where he’s living. He must check in regularly with immigration officials, she said.

On December 18, about 3 miles west of the El Paso border crossing, Felipe and his dad were detained for illegal entry. Noticing Felipe was ill on Christmas Eve, a border agent took him to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a cold and later a fever.

“The child was held for an additional 90 minutes for observation and then released from the hospital midafternoon on December 24 with prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen,” CBP said in a statement. Amoxicillin is a commonly prescribed antibiotic.

Doctors question boy’s medical care

That evening, the boy began vomiting and was taken back to the hospital. He died hours later at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 90 miles north of El Paso, the CBP said.

The father was released on his own recognizance, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Liz Johnson said. The Guatemalan consulate in Phoenix said it was assisting with his immigration case.

Gomez has previously said Felipe was healthy when he and his father set out for the United States in the middle of December. The father vowed to send money home to the family in their village in the highlands of western Guatemala, near the Mexico border.

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She described Felipe as a playful and respectful boy who liked soccer and eating fish from a lake near the family’s thatched-roof home.

Now, the family finds itself worried about the debt the father occurred in migrating to the United States.

“A lot of people leave because of the extreme poverty we live in,” Gomez said on Monday.

Felipe was one of two Guatemalan children to die in CBP custody in December. Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died in a hospital December 8, two days after she was taken to a border patrol station.