Police, coroner deny assault as cause of teen's death - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Police, coroner deny assault as cause of teen's death

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Christopher Rico was a student at Jemison Middle School. Source: WBRC video Christopher Rico was a student at Jemison Middle School. Source: WBRC video
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Authorities in Chilton County are releasing limited details on the death of a 12-year-old boy. Jemison police confirm the boy was admitted to an area hospital Saturday and died Monday.

Chilton County Coroner Randall Yeargan says Christopher Rico died of natural causes at Children's Hospital. He adds that rumors of a beating are untrue.

Many FOX6 viewers have left us messages, concerned he died from a bullying attack. Police say his death was not consistent with an assault.

"We conducted a thorough Death Investigation," Jemison Police Chief Shane Fulmer writes in a press release. "Based on the facts we have found no evidence that any type of physical altercation occurred that would have been a contributing factor to [Rico's] death."

Fulmer says that Rico was at his family home Friday and complained of a bad headache. His health continued to decline after being taken to Children's of Alabama where he was eventually put on a ventilator. He passed away Monday afternoon.

Fulmer says that the department has consulted with Children's of Alabama staff who treated Rico, the state's Department of Forensic Science, the county coroner's office, family members, adults and other students who were with Rico Friday.

Police say that there is a video of kids, including Rico, roughousing together. Investigators and Coroner Yeargan says that nothing that happened in the video could have caused Rico's death.

"Pushing, roughhousing I would call it. But as I said no forceable...it's my understanding that when a medical personl even viewed it [they] made the statement that an aneurism or bleeding of the brain would not have been caused by what was going on there," said Fulmer.

FOX6 News asked for a copy of the video in question but Fulmer said it is being handed over to the district attorney's office for review and they will decide whether to release it.

Read Chief Fulmer's full statement to the media below:

On Monday, April the 15th at approximately 2:30 pm a [12]-year-old Jemison Middle School student passed away while at Children's Hospital after being transported and admitted to the hospital on Friday for a medical illness.

Jemison Rescue was dispatched to the family residence, with Jemison Police Officers assisting, on Friday night at approximately 9:26 pm on what was referred to as a general illness call. The patient was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

When this tragic incident occurred, we conducted a thorough Death Investigation and we are very confident that no foul play was involved while at school or at the child's home that contributed to his death. There is no evidence at this time that would lead us to believe that this death was caused by anything other than natural causes. We have been in constant contact with the medical personnel at Children's Hospital who treated the patient, the Department of Forensic Sciences, the Chilton County Corner's Office, the District Attorney's Office, family members, adults and other students who had contact with the child during school hours and until he arrived at his home on Friday. We have concluded our investigation and based on the facts we have found no evidence that any type of physical altercation occurred that would have been a contributing factor to his death.

This is a very tragic loss for this family and we offer our condolences to them. The family has heard many rumors about their child since this terrible incident, and those rumors are simply not true. We would ask that the family be respected as they mourn and deal with this tragic loss.

Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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