Three-year-old Daleyza Hernandez-Avila recently visited a surgical center in Stockton for what was supposed to be a routine dental procedure.
But on the June 12 visit, her heart stopped about 30 minutes into the procedure. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Stockton girl's unexpected death has devastated her parents and their community, said the family attorney, Omar Gonzalez. By all accounts, Daleyza was happy, healthy and "full of life," he said.
"This family has been destroyed by the senseless loss of their beautiful daughter as a result of a routine dental procedure," Gonzalez said.
Daleyza's family is looking for answers on how their daughter died after visiting the Children's Dental Surgery Center.
According to Gonzalez, Daleyza was referred by another dentist's office to the surgical center.
At the center, she underwent general anesthesia for dental crowns, molar repairs and a possible tooth extraction, he said. At some point, something went wrong.
"They won't tell me what happened. They just handed her over to me dead," the girl's mother, Araceli Avila, told KTXL-TV.
She said a nurse explained that Daleyza may have had heart problems. But Avila told the news station her daughter didn't have a heart condition. Before an ambulance hauled Daleyza away, Avila said the nurse told her that her daughter was stable and that she shouldn't worry.
The Stockton Police Department and Dental Board of California are investigating Daleyza's death.
"At this time, it appears nothing criminal has happened, but this is still an active investigation," said Officer Joseph Silva, the department's spokesman.
The center's attorney, John Supple, said his client is also conducting an internal investigation and will cooperate with authorities. He said the clinic is eager "to find out what happened in this tragic case."
Citing patient privacy laws, Supple declined to provide details about Daleyza's death.
The center has provided procedures to more than 20,000 pediatric patients since his client assumed control 2009.
Daleyza is the center's first patient to die since his client took over, Supple said.
"This was highly unusual," he said.
David Thompson, an office administrator at the nonprofit ambulatory surgery center, told KCRA-TV the clinic received death threats online and had to close its office Friday.
Daleyza's family and friends created a Go Fund Me account to collect donations to help pay for funeral expenses.