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Family Blames Williamsburg School for 7-Year Old Girl Declared Brain-Dead

By Neda Semnani | October 28, 2015 3:04pm
 7-year old Noelia Echavarria before and after hospitalization.
7-year old Noelia Echavarria before and after hospitalization.
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David H. Perecman

WILLIAMSBURG — The family of a 7-year old Brooklyn girl who was declared brain-dead Tuesday after choking on a sandwich at school claims that the staff did not do enough to save the child, their lawyer said.

Noella Echavarria was eating lunch about 2 p.m. on Oct. 21 at P.S. 250 when she began choking on her meal while in a hallway of the school, according to several media reports.

As the child struggled for air, a staffer ran outside and flagged down private EMT Qwasie Reid who was driving by with his partner, transporting a nursing home patient to a doctor's appointment, he said.

Reid left his patient in the care of his partner and followed the man into the school building at 108 Montrose Ave.

"I left [the ambulance] immediately," Reid said.

He saw Echavarria on the floor unresponsive and began treating her, cleared her airwaves and administered CPR.

"There were people around," Reid said. "A mixture of children and adults. Mainly adults, but none near her. I didn't have to ask anyone to move out of the way."

Reid estimates that the fire department arrived three to four minutes after he began CPR.

Following the incident, Reid was suspended without pay by his employer, Assist Ambulance Brooklyn. The company did not immediately returned calls for comment.

"As an EMT, I don’t care about your money," Reid said. "There was a child choking. I’m worried about them firing me, but I did a good deed. I just feel like I’m being penalized for something and I haven’t done anything wrong."

"This is my situation," he continued. "It sucks. Most people get rewarded and I’m being penalized."

Echavarria remains on life support at NYU Langone Medical Center, but the family is hopeful that she will recover, David H. Perecman, the family's lawyer said.

The principal of P.S. 250 denied that the staff didn't do enough to help the child.

"Speaking on behalf of the teachers and staff of P.S. 250," Principal RoseAnn LaCioppa wrote in a letter to parents of the school. "I want to reassure you that our school personnel has been trained in response to emergencies and we will always follow all protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of all our students."

LaCioppia hasn't returned further calls for comment.