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She Died at Age 7 in CBP Custody. Now, an Official Cause of Death

Jakelin Caal Maquin died of sepsis from strep bacteria, medical examiner says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2019 9:15 AM CDT
In this Dec. 15, 2018, file photo, Annunciation House Director Ruben Garcia answers questions from the media after reading a statement from the family of Jakelin Caal Maquin, pictured at left, during...   (Rudy Gutierrez/The El Paso Times via AP, File)

(Newser) – When Jakelin Caal Maquin arrived Dec. 6 from Guatemala at the US-Mexico border with her father and more than 100 migrants, her family says she'd eaten well during her journey and wasn't sick. By early Dec. 8, the 7-year-old was dead. Customs and Border Protection, which had taken Jakelin and the other migrants into custody along the stretch of border in New Mexico, said initially Jakelin had died of thirst and shock, with a CBP statement noting she hadn't eaten or had water "for several days," per the Washington Post. Now NBC News reports the official cause of death is in from the medical examiner in El Paso County, Texas. The report released Friday said Jakelin suffered from organ failure from a "rapidly progressive infection, with prompt systemic bacterial spread and substantial clinical deterioration."

Official cause of death: natural due to streptococcal sepsis. Per CNN, the report noted the strep bacteria was found in Jakelin's lungs, spleen, liver, and adrenal gland "She would have looked really bad," California Rep. Raul Ruiz says, per NBC, adding that her condition should have been noticed by those who had her in CBP custody, and that "any meaningful health evaluation" would have turned up her sickness. A Homeland Security statement put out shortly after Jakelin died cited "sepsis shock" as the believed cause of death, though it noted immigration officials saw "no evidence of health issues." In late December, CBP announced all children in custody would get at least two medical checkups. CNN has more on the "two conflicting stories." (Read more Customs and Border Protection stories.)

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