Girl dies suddenly for unknown reasons in Chinese school

By Daniel Wallace

Tragedy befell the Shuang Wen School in the Lower East Side Tuesday with a small, but sickening thud. A five-year-old girl, Jasmine Man, died after she fell unconscious in her first grade class at Shuang Wen.

School officials said Man became ill around 1:30 p.m. and complained of a pain in her throat. The teacher sent for water. Man then complained she couldn’t see and subsequently collapsed. She was carried to the office of principal Ling-ling Chou who, according to school officials, performed C.P.R. until an ambulance arrived.

E.M.S. staff immediately put Man on a heart monitor and oxygen, and transported her to New York Downtown Hospital. Principal Chou traveled with the ambulance and the school notified Man’s parents to meet them at the hospital.

Man was pronounced dead at 2:05 p.m., according to police. A school official said she was merely days away from her December 9th birthday, when she would have turned six. And, according to the same official, she had a younger sibling at the school.

Grace Brugess, a spokesperson for the medical examiner, said Wednesday that an autopsy had been performed, but it was inconclusive.

“We have to do further testing, so we’ve listed the case as pending further study,” she said. She hopes to have more answers within the next 10 days.

The Shuang Wen School opened in 1998 as the only public school providing instruction in both English and Mandarin. Within the lobby of the large concrete building on East Broadway, which Shuang Wen shares with Public Schools 134 and 137, bulletin boards line the walls and the announcements on Shuang Wen’s board bear Mandarin inscriptions beneath all English words.

On Wednesday afternoon, one day after the tragedy, the building’s lobby filled with kids and parents as P.S. 137 was dismissed. One father hugged his daughter as she came running out from her class line.

“So, did you know the girl?” he asked.

“Well, her name was Jasmine,” the girl said. “But she was in the other school.”

Outside, a large squad of New York City Police officers stood guard around the blue-painted iron entrance doors. As students from Shuang Wen and P.S. 134 were dismissed a few hours later, an Asian American father walked with his young son and daughter between the police officers and continued along the sidewalk beside East Broadway. The father could not speak English, but his children could.

“A girl fell, then died,” said the young boy, a student at P.S. 134. “Our teacher read it to us from the newspaper today.”

Keith Kalb, a Department of Education spokesman, said that, as these young students think about and discuss the tragedy, the school is trying to provide grief counseling.

“We’re bringing crises teams to the school to help students, staff and parents deal with the tragic loss,” he said.

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