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'Possible' toxic link eyed in Haverhill girl's death School superintendent cites weekend "accident"

Boston Herald - 12/19/2018

Dec. 19--The Department of Children and Families confirmed it has joined the investigation into the death of 11-year-old Precious Wallaces of Haverhill -- a probe authorities said today includes "possible exposure to a toxic substance."

But Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, stressed their office looks into all sudden and unexpected deaths, and, "Our involvement should not be construed that this is a criminal matter.

"At this point in time, all possible causes are being considered -- including possible exposure to a toxic substance. However, we cannot confirm any specific cause at this time -- as that is the purpose of our investigation," Kimball-Monahan said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Children and Families confirmed this morning DCF "is investigating this tragic situation in collaboration with law enforcement."

State and federal confidentiality laws prohibit DCF from elaborating on the child's case.

Kimball-Monahan said Lawrence police and emergency services responded to a medical call at an apartment at 233 Jackson St. in Lawrence at 3:29 a.m. Saturday.

Precious, she said, was visiting a family member and was found unresponsive. She was transported to Lawrence General Hospital, then med-flighted to Tufts Medical Center, where she died yesterday.

Gail Sweeney, who lives at 233 Jackson Street, said Wallaces and her little brother occasionally came to visit a relative in the building. Sweeney said Wallaces and her mother lived there years ago.

"I knew her when she was a baby, gave her a little teddy bear," Sweeney said. "I saw her on that swing."

Sweeney said Wallaces' relative is a quiet guy, and said she is not aware of any issues.

"It's a sad story," she said. It's terrible. It's terrible."

Daily police logs are public record and Lawrence makes theirs available online; however, Saturday's is blank.

In a letter to parents, Haverhill Superintendent of Schools Margaret Marotta cited a weekend "accident" that left Precious on life support.

Haverhill Mayor Jim Fiorentini said in a tweet that Precious, a student at the Consentino School, "tragically passed away" Tuesday.

"Our thoughts are with the family during this Christmas season," he added.

Fiorentini said he and the Superintendent visited the school this morning with grief counselors.

"It's very, very upsetting to the children," he said. "It's very traumatic, our heart goes out to the family."

A GoFundMe page has been set up in the sixth-grader's name by an aunt.

On the page the aunt writes: The young girl "fought her battle until the end and sadly didn't make it. This tragedy happened so unexpectedly, who would of thought our Precious would leave us so soon. She was just starting to live life!!"

The aunt adds: "I've never asked anyone for anything but today I am asking my community, family and friends to help us raise money so our little angel Precious can have a proper burial ... one that she deserves."

The goal of the fund is $8,000 and $3,200 of that was raised as of this morning.

Marotta described Precious as "a beautiful and well-loved girl" who died "after an accident over the weekend left her on life support. Our condolences and thoughts go out to the family and friends of Precious.

"As we open our schools, our students will be faced with this tragic news and will begin to cope with the inevitable grief that comes with losing a classmate and friend. As a school system, we will be offering counseling and bereavement support services to all our students and staff, particularly those who knew Precious well at the Consentino and Tilton Schools."

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(c)2018 Boston Herald

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