Police conclude investigation into death of county child

Chesterfield police have concluded their investigation into the death of Amarria Johnson, a 7-year-old Chesterfield County girl, on Jan. 2, 2012.  The investigation indicates Amarria died of natural causes; the death certificate being filed by the physician lists her cause of death as cardiac arrest and anaphylaxis.

The investigation into Amarria’s death determined that she ate a peanut, which she was allergic to , while on the playground of Hopkins Elementary School during recess.  The peanut was given to Amarria by another child who was unaware of her allergy.  Upon realizing what occurred, Amarria approached a teacher who was monitoring the recess and she was taken to the school clinic. A clinic aide was attempting to help Amarria when she stopped breathing.  School personnel and responding police officers and firefighters performed CPR and used an AED on Amarria, but were unable to save her life.  She was declared dead shortly after she arrived at Chippenham Hospital.

Detectives investigating the matter consulted with the Commonwealth’s Attorney and it was determined that no crime or criminal negligence was committed by the child who shared the peanut, school personnel or Amarria’s mother.  Although not a crime, Amarria’s death is a tragedy and the Chesterfield County Police Department expresses its deepest sympathies to her family, classmates and school personnel as they deal with this difficult and painful event.

Contributions to a memorial fund will be accepted by any Wells Fargo Bank. The account is set up as the “Amarria Johnson Fund.”

A vigil was held for Amarria on Thursday, Jan. 5 at the home of her parents on Manassas Drive.

It is estimated that one percent of the population, or close to 3 million Americans, are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts according to American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).  From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18 percent among children under age 18. Researchers aren’t currently certain why there has been an increase.

The AAAAI reports that the main problem with a peanut allergy is the severity of the reaction. In fact, studies by Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, suggest that 80 percent of people with a peanut allergy have had a reaction that involves a breathing problem or have experienced a reaction that affected multiple areas of their body. He further estimates that 100 to 150 people in the USA die each year from peanut allergies.

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