Choking game believed to claim life of 11-year-old Belle River girl
Published Tuesday, March 26, 2013 5:30PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 27, 2013 10:48AM EDT
Residents of Belle River are in shock and mourning the tragic death of an 11-year-old girl who passed away suddenly last week.
Aja Chandler’s parents believe she died accidentally experimenting with a game commonly known as the 'choking game.' Earlier this month, CTV News brought you the stories of two other families who lost their children to this dangerous activity.
Only a few days ago, Joe Chandler, a father of three, found his oldest child Aja in her room. Her body was lifeless.
“I just yelled, for some sort of miracle for her to breathe," says Joe Chandler.
There are no words to describe how Chandler was feeling.
“I knew right away she was gone,” says Chandler. “She was cold. I just held her in my arms. My baby girl.”
But what makes her death especially difficult to accept is how it happened. How an 11-year old with a zest for life, who loved soccer and playing with friends and family, died so tragically.
“I just know in my heart she didn't want to leave us,” says Chandler.
Chandler and his wife found signs she might have been experimenting with the choking game inside her bedroom, but not until after she died.
“Short lengths of material, her mom’s pantyhose with legs cut off,” says Chandler. “why would anyone do that? We didn't see the signs you know.”
Instead, Chandler remembers a beautiful young lady with a great sense of humour, who put great effort into her studies.
They want to remember Aja and they want to help other families and kids understand and build awareness. This is not a game. This is dangerous.
Close family friend Rob Duxter is setting up a memorial website www.rememberaja.org. The site will provide parents with information and resources about this very serious issue. How to talk to your kids and what signs to look for.
“We'll be accepting donations to continually build awareness for other families and build a fund that will give soccer scholarships and give a real memorial to remember Aja,” says Duxter.
A memorial took place at Aja's school on Tuesday and grief counsellors were on hand to help people cope. The Grade 6 student was an active member of a Tecumseh soccer team. She was excited about an upcoming tournament in Ohio. Her mom was going to join her.
“It meant everything to go with her mom, space away with her brothers. She was looking forward to it,” says Chandler.
But instead, the family is now preparing for her funeral on Wednesday. Chandler says he's sharing his daughter's tragic story because he wants others to learn from it and he wants to keep Aja's memory alive.
“We want to do something special for her because she is loved so much and she wants to be here right now,” he says.