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Second case of a child dying after local dentist visit

Separate case of young child dies...

YUMA, Ariz. - A mother has filed a wrongful death complaint against a dental office in Yuma after the death of her child.

This comes a day after News 11 reported on the death of a different child, 2-year old Zion Jay Gastelum, a toddler who went to the Kool Smiles office in Yuma for a crown and filling back in December. 

ABC15 in Phoenix spoke with Zion Gastelum's uncle, who said that on December 16 the child's parents took him to Kool Smiles in Yuma, to get a crown and a filling. What happened next remains unclear, but Zion's uncle said that while at the office it appears Zion stopped breathing.

Now, ABC15 reports that a separate second death linked to the same dental office has been uncovered. 

Francisca Lares, the mother of 4-year old Lizeth Lares, says her child died after a dental procedure in February of 2016.

The mother spoke with ABC15, and said that the four year old girl had dental treatment done, a pulled tooth, then started showing signs of a fever.

The family took Lizeth back to the office, but was sent home after being told she would be fine.

"The allegation in our case is the dentist, Kool Smiles, didn't comply with the standard of care and had they appropriately prescribed some antibiotics this could have been avoided," Marco Mercaldo, with the Mercaldo Law Firm in Tucson told ABC15.

According to court papers, the child died a few days later. 

After speaking with the mother, she describes her daughter as a bright, lively, and very smart young girl loved by her whole family, especially her grandparents. 

"She was lovely. She was my mini-me. We all miss her a lot. She took half of my heart with her. They took something from me that will never come back. It is really hard to make peace with it," said Lares to a ABC15 reporter.

A spokesperson for Kool Smiles gave ABC15 this statement in relation to the death of Lizeth:

"The passing of Lizeth Lares is tragic and Kool Smiles expresses our deepest sympathy to the family.  However, Kool Smiles strongly denies the allegations contained in the complaint and maintains there was no relationship between the dental care provided by Kool Smiles and the child’s death. 

Lizeth Lares was brought to Kool Smiles by her mother on January 30, 2016, the day after Kool Smiles performed a routine tooth extraction. An examination of the extraction site was normal; however, it was noted that Lizeth was coughing and presented cold-like symptoms, and the parent was advised to take the child to a physician for further evaluation. 

Kool Smiles had no further contact with the patient. Kool Smiles later learned that the parents took the child to a doctor in Mexico two days later and the child subsequently died. Lizeth’s death was tragic. It was unrelated, however, to the treatment provided by Kool Smiles and to suggest otherwise is false."

A statement released by the family's attorney to ABC15:

"This is unfortunately nothing new and is simply a continuation of Kool Smiles' efforts to attempt to avoid responsibility for this tragic and completely unnecessary death. The dentists at Kool Smiles ignored clear signs of infection when they sent Lizeth's mom away without prescribing necessary antibiotics and ordering urgent medical follow-up. Lizeth's mom relied on the dentist's diagnosis of "cold" and was falsely reassured she had nothing to worry about. The infection continued to spread until it ultimately overwhelmed Lizeth, resulting in her death."

Lares told ABC15 she filed the wrongful death complaint to prevent other parents from going through the pain her family was suffering.

"I want to prevent what just happened again. I am not in it for the money. I am in it because I want them to pay attention to what they are doing. It is a great pain on families altogether. Even if I didn't win I thought if there was a lawsuit against them, they will start paying attention to what they are doing," said Lares.

A trial date is set for February, 2019.


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