Oxford teenager's death could be result of 'choking game'

Oxford teenager's death could be result of 'choking game'

Postby Admin » 14 Oct 2009, 17:40

Oxford teenager's death could be result of 'choking game'
By Jason Maddux and Michael Thompson, Daily Register | Posted: Friday, October 9, 2009 11:45 pm

The family of a 14-year-old Oxford girl who died Thursday at her home said it was the result of playing a choking game.

Marquette County Coroner Tom Wastart said Friday that the preliminary cause of death for Elena Thornton, a freshman at Pioneer Westfield High School, was asphyxiation. However, a definitive cause won't be available for three to four weeks.

According to the group G.A.S.P., or Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play, the "choking game" involves cutting off the flow of blood to the brain in exchange for a few seconds of feeling lightheaded.

"This sets off a warm and fuzzy feeling, which is just the brain dying, thousands of cells at a time," according to the group's Web site at .

"If it's a choking game, we want to make sure kids aren't doing that ... and let them know the dangers," Wastart said.

The family said memorials may be made to G.A.S.P., W321 N7669 Silverspring Lane, Hartland, WI 53029, in Elena's name.

Elena's grandmother, Annie Lundy, of Westfield, said she was a "beautiful, wonderful young lady" who loved her horses and her family.

"It's almost like losing my own daughter," Lundy said. She said Elena was happy and had many friends.

Lundy said Elena had lived in Oxford for five years.

Wastart said the Marquette County Sheriff's Office interviewed fellow students and friends at the school Friday. Calls to the sheriff's office Friday night were not returned. Thornton was declared dead at 11:32 p.m.

"It touches home that much more when I have three daughters of my own," Wastart said. It's a "tragedy," he said.

If confirmed to be the result of the "choking game," it would be the second such death in the area this year. In July, Columbus High School senior Macklin Jensen, 17, died while playing the "game," family members said.

Michaela Reichhoff, 15, a freshman at Westfield, said she had known Elena since the fourth grade.

"She had a bubbly personality and was there for everyone all the time. She wasn't afraid to give you a hug, be crazy and be fun," Michaela said, adding that Elena was a good student.

According to her obituary, Elena was an honor roll student and was proud of her perfect attendance. It said she enjoyed playing softball and her favorite pastime was riding her much-loved horse, Lilly.

"She was like a sister to me. She was like my twin," Michaela said.

Michaela said she had heard rumors that a student had died and a substitute teacher confirmed it to her class Friday morning. Many people cried, including the teacher, she said.

She said she went to the school counselor's office and 30 or 40 people were there, grieving and crying. She said there were so many people, they had to move to the school library.

Michaela last talked to Elena on Thursday, she said. Michaela helped her properly put on a football jersey of a friend in the style girls wear.

"She gave me a great big hug, and I went back to class, and that was the last time I saw her," she said.

Counselors from Montello and Adams as well as Westfield helped the students, Michaela said, adding that she thought they did a great job.

A memorial gathering for Elena will be held at Oxford Funeral Home from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Private family services will be held.






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