Boy's Death Blamed on Abscess, Not Injected Drug

Times Staff Writer

A lung abscess, and not the injection of an unknown drug, caused the death last week of a 2-year-old Northridge boy, a Los Angeles County coroner's report disclosed Monday.

The boy, Jesse Gonzalez, died Thursday morning in his family's apartment in the Bryant Street-Vanalden Avenue area about 12 hours after his parents had taken him to a neighbor, who injected him with a drug the boy's mother bought from a woman at a Sun Valley swap meet, police said.

Authorities initially suspected that the death was related to the injection administered by the woman, who they said is not a doctor or registered nurse but who sometimes provides medical services for people in the neighborhood.

'Ruled a Natural Death'

The coroner has ordered toxicological tests on the drug, according to Bill Gold, a spokesman for the coroner's office. But "it was ruled a natural death," Gold said. "It's saying in so many words that whatever comes up in lab reports would not be the cause of death."

Despite the coroner's conclusion that a lung abscess--an inflamed area in which pus gathers--was the cause of death, police are continuing their investigation of the incident, which began when the parents sought care for what they thought was a lingering cold suffered by the child, Los Angeles Police Lt. Steve Day said. Police were called after the child stopped breathing and a baby sitter called the 911 emergency number.

Investigators found that the child had been injected with a drug, which they believe to be an antibiotic. Detectives also have ordered tests on a specimen of the drug, Day said, and are seeking further information on where the drug came from and how it was administered.

"There may be a connection and we cannot afford to overlook it," he said. "That's why we're following up on the drug aspect."

Produced in Mexico

Although no arrests have been made in the case, police have confiscated "hundreds of boxes" of drugs from a stall at the Sun Valley swap meet, Day said. The drugs apparently were legitimately produced in Mexico, police said.

"We're investigating an unusual situation dealing with a quantity of drugs and their administration," Day said. "There appear to be some abnormalities about how these drugs are being distributed."

Police have not disclosed the names of the dead child's parents or the women who sold and injected the drug, citing the continuing investigation.

Eight children who lived in the couple's home were taken into protective custody last week pending the outcome of the case, police said.

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