Ki’ari Pope didn’t make it to her ninth birthday.
It would have been a festive occasion on September 10, a special day she always shared with her mom Marquisia Bonner, whose birthday is just a day later.
But Ki’ari’s death Sunday from complications after drinking boiling water on a dare has left her family devastated.
“It’s been hard to deal with,” said Ki’ari’s cousin Marquita Williams, 32, of . “I just really, really miss her.”
The tragedy began in March. A pot of water boiled in the kitchen. The hot water was to straighten hair for a weave, said Williams, who was elsewhere in the house.
But as the water boiled, Ki’ari and her cousins watched YouTube videos of a challenge where people appeared to drink boiling water. One of the cousins dared Ki’ari to give it a try.
About 10 minutes later, the kids went to Williams to tell her Ki’ari just drank some hot water.
“They didn’t tell me she drank the boiling water,” Williams said. “I thought it was hot water out of the faucet.”
Williams gave the girl some cold water and the two went to bed. A few hours later, Ki’ari woke up crying, saying, “It burns, it burns.”
Ki’ari was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center but after a couple days, she was flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Williams said.
The scalding made it hard for Ki’ari to talk. She needed emergency surgery on her windpipe to clear away scar tissue, Bonner said.
Ki’ari spent a month hospitalized, Williams said.
On Sunday, Ki’ari told Bonner’s boyfriend she couldn’t breathe, then she collapsed.
Bonner said she was at a store when she came home around midnight to see police lights.
Paramedics spent about 40 minutes trying in vain to resuscitate the girl, records show.
Florida Department of Children and Families’ investigation into Ki’ari’s death remains open, said agency spokeswoman Jessica Sims.
Ki’ari’s family also had a verified report from the agency, which Sims describes as a “preponderance of evidence to support an allegation of caregiver maltreatment.”
The agency placed Bonner’s two daughters and son in the care of an aunt, Williams said.
A candlelight vigil is being held for the girl at 7 p.m. Friday at a family home in Boynton Beach.
A funeral for Ki’ari will be held August 12 at Johnson’s Memorial Chapel in Boynton.
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