An 8-year-old girl died, 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 the 8-year-old complained she was having trouble breathing Sunday night. Minutes later, her mother's boyfriend says, she was unconscious and unresponsive.
The 8-year-old was pronounced dead at Jackson Memorial Hospital Monday morning.
The child's 21-year-old mother identified her as Ki’ari Pope on a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for the girl's funeral. Kiari's mother said the 8-year-old was dared to drink the water by her cousin after they watched a video from YouTube.
In March, DCF received reports the girl had sustained burns to her mouth and throat after drinking the boiling water.
Ki’ari was hospitalized, and the girl's cousin Latoya Johnson said the 8-year-old lost her ability to talk but kept her spunk, “She still smiled through whatever she went through,” Johnson said. Her cousin says as recently as this Sunday, Ki’ari was slowly getting her voice back and seemed to be healthy otherwise.
“It was her cousin’s birthday party then she went home and went to sleep and they said she woke up and couldn’t breathe,” Latoya said.
Records show DCF investigated the incident as well as nine other allegations of abuse or neglect involving the girl over the last eight 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 on the girl. One was to report the boiling water incident once again, the other was over concerns the girl was not properly supervised.
DCF shows five 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 three other children in the home.
The family is hosting a candlelight vigil for Ki'ari Friday night in Boynton Beach.