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8-year-old Boynton Beach girl dies months after drinking boiling water from a straw

Posted at 10:06 AM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-04 05:25:26-04

An 8-year-old girl is dead, months after drinking boiling water from a straw on a dare from her cousin, according to Florida Department of Children and Family records.

Records show 8-year-old Ki'ari Pope complained she was having trouble breathing Sunday night. Minutes later, the mother's boyfriend says, she was unconscious and unresponsive.

The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office says Ki'ari Pope was pronounced dead on Monday morning.

In March, DCF received reports the girl had sustained burns to her mouth and throat after drinking the boiling water. The Medical Examiner will have to determine if those injuries contributed to her death.

Records show DCF investigated the incident as well as nine other allegations of abuse or neglect involving the girl over the last 8 years. Four of the most recent prior reports were received in 2017, two of which occurred when the child was under the supervision of a relative.

The last investigation before her death came in June after DCF received a report while the girl was in the care of another relative. Specific information about the incident was not currently available under a public record law.

In May, DCF received two reports about Pope. One was to report the boiling water incident once again, the other was over concerns the girl was not properly supervised.

DCF shows 5 other investigations were launched between 2009 and 2016, involving allegations of domestic violence between the mother and her "respective paramour."

The department's Critical Incident Rapid Response Team will be looking into her death because one of the reports in 2017 yielded proof of either abuse or neglect. Records do not show which investigation that was.

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll released a statement on the death saying, “The loss of this child is truly devastating and our condolences go out to all those who loved her. We have opened a child death investigation to examine the circumstances surrounding her death and will deploy a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team to review all interactions this family has had with Florida’s child welfare system. We will also continue to work closely with law enforcement to support their continued efforts.”

Records show there were 3 other children in the home.

A Contact 5/Palm Beach Post investigation, released just last week, found Child Protective Investigators within DCF are overwhelmed, dealing with high caseloads, and high turnover. Many say "children are at risk," because "it's impossible to do our jobs well."