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Girl, 7, Dies After Trick-or-Treating in Santa Monica

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A 7-year-old girl collapsed and died after eating trick-or-treat candy in Santa Monica on Wednesday evening, prompting police to warn parents to confiscate any treats that were picked up on the block where the youngster had been going door to door.

But preliminary toxicological tests performed at Santa Monica Hospital, where the girl died an hour after collapsing, turned up no evidence of poisoning, hospital spokesman Ted Braun said. He added that the county coroner’s office would conduct more comprehensive toxicological tests.

Ariel Katz was trick-or-treating in the 700 block of 12th Street when she collapsed about 6:30 p.m., said Santa Monica Officer Jay Trisler.

Ariel was diagnosed earlier this year as having a heart murmur, but she was not receiving any medical treatment for that condition, said police Sgt. Bill Brucker.

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Braun, however, said the hospital had “no evidence of a medical history of a heart problem.”

Shortly after 9 p.m. Santa Monica police, fearing the possibility of poisoning, cordoned off the block and began conducting a door-to-door search, looking for children and parents who may information about what had happened on the street.

Brucker said Ariel had come to Santa Monica from Topanga Canyon with her parents and was with three or four friends when she began running down the street, tripped and collapsed.

As officers went door-to-door, looking for possibly tainted treats, anxious parents waited on the street for their children.

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Several parents were upset that police had given them vague information about the incident, hinting only that a young girl had become very ill. Several parents said they learned of the girl’s death from news reporters.

“You never hear of stuff like this happening anymore,” said Dan Weishaup before the toxicological test results were announced. “I think people come to a place like Santa Monica because they feel safe here. You’d never think that something like this could happen here.”

Marianne Ray waited outside police lines while officers questioned a number of children at a party not far from where the Katz girl collapsed. Ray said she was told to come to pick up her child shortly after the incident was reported.

“This is the first year I really let her go trick or treating,” Ray said. “She won’t ever go again.”

In Orange County, shortly before the Katz girl collapsed, a 5-year-old Stanton boy who was trick-or-treating with a group of children was struck by a car and killed, and his brother was critically injured by another car as they attempted to run across a busy thoroughfare, sheriff’s deputies said.

The dead boy, Hoang Minh Le, and his brother, Thanh Minh Le, 7, were with a group of six children who had tried to cross Cerritos Avenue in the 7100 block, about 150 yards east of Knott Avenue, at 6 p.m., said Lt. Richard Olson.

“The youngsters were almost to the center of the street when they decided they couldn’t make it to the other side, so they all turned and ran back,” Olson said.

The accident is under investigation. No one was arrested.

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Times staff writers John H. Lee in Los Angeles and David Reyes in Orange County contributed to this story.


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