A family in Arizona is confused, devastated and seeks answers about what happened during a young boy’s dental appointment.
The family of Zion Jay Gastelum said the 2-year-old died after a dental appointment in Yuma last month. Zion’s uncle told ABC15 that the child’s parents took him to the Kool Smiles dentist on Dec. 16 for a crown and filling, and somehow during or after the process. , it looks like Zion has stopped breathing.
According to his family, Zion was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center and then airlifted to Maricopa County, where he died days later.
ABC15 has confirmed that the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office is handling the case and the cause and manner of death remain pending.
Gastelum died on December 20. His family tells ABC15 that they donated his organs in hopes he could help others.
“Everything about him was just adorable,” Zion’s grandmother Norma Yarrito said. “A sweet adorable little boy.”
While digging into what happened, ABC15 contacted several agencies. The Yuma Fire Department confirms responding to Kool Smiles in December for an “emergency medical response.” The Yuma Police Department confirms helping firefighters resolve a “medical issue” at Kool Smiles on December 16.
Yarrito told ABC15 that his grandson’s funeral took place on Wednesday evening.
She remembers a very bright light in the young boy.
“He was just the apple of everyone’s eye and the light in their hearts,” Yarrito said. “He was so loving that everyone loved him.”
Citing HIPAA and other restrictions that come with privacy laws, a spokeswoman for Kool Smiles declined to comment, but emailed the following statement:
The Kool Smiles family expresses our sincere condolences to the family of Zion Gastelum. Our hearts break for Zion’s family at this very sad time. Since founding Kool Smiles nearly twenty years ago, we have provided safe and compassionate dental care for more than 19 million patient visits. Our dedicated dentists, anesthesiologists and the rest of our Kool Smiles family join the community in mourning this tragic loss.
Meanwhile, Yarrito recalls her grandson constantly having a smile on his face and she offers advice to other parents.
“I want them to know that when they take their child to the doctor or the dentist, they have to be present at all times,” she said. “Just love your children with all your heart because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Gastelum’s family created a GoFundMe page to help raise money to cover funeral expenses.