10-year-old dies, apparently hanged at Illinois school

EVANSTON, Ill. — A preliminary coroner’s office ruling says a 10-year-old boy reportedly found hanging from a coat hook at his suburban Chicago school took his own life.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office released a daily ledger this afternoon that notes “hanging” and “suicide” as the cause of death for fifth-grader Aquan Lewis.

Messages seeking further comment were left with the medical examiner’s office and Evanston police.

Aquan was found unresponsive in a bathroom at Oakton Elementary on Tuesday afternoon, and he was pronounced dead at a hospital this morning. The school’s janitor said the child had been pulled off a hook.

Police had earlier refused to provide details about the case beyond calling it “an isolated incident.”

“It’s devastating,” said school board member Jerome Summers. “Nobody anticipates the death of their child when they send their kid to school.”

Aquan’s mother, Angel Marshall, told WBBM-TV that she knows her son had been unaccounted for at the school for a time because “he was there too long.” But she says police and school officials have told her very little.

An Evanston⁄Skokie School District 65 spokeswoman, Patricia Markham, said Tuesday that the death was an accident.

“We don’t believe it was anything other than that,” Markham said.

Counselors were meeting with students and parents today. Several parents who attended a school meeting today who would not give their names said school officials provided little information about the death; others said school officials instructed them to avoid talking to the media.

Maria Patino of Evanston said her fourth-grade daughter, a student at the school, was frightened and confused about what had happened.

She said her daughter asked, “Mommy, is the person going to come for me, too?” because she thought somebody had intentionally hurt the boy.

“I didn’t know what to say,” Patino said in Spanish. “It’s too hard for a child to understand.”

Two police cars were parked outside the sprawling, three-story red brick school, which has about 420 students in kindergarten through 5th grade.

School janitor Elliott Lieteau said the boy had been pulled off a hook and was lying on the floor when he entered the restroom. He said he performed CPR on the boy.

Anquan was pronounced dead early today at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

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