State Investigates Toddler's Death

Preschool had prior investigations on record

A state investigation is underway of the Oceanside Preschool where a 3-year-old boy died Monday.

The California Department of Social Services launched the investigation shortly after the school reported that the boy choked on a pushpin, according to an article by our media partner, the North County Times.

A teacher reportedly heard the boy, Tyler Howell, gasp and pull his hands to his neck at about 1 p.m. Monday at the Montessori School of Oceanside.

Soon after, the boy became unresponsive. He was rushed to the hospital, but despite aggressive efforts by doctors to save his life, he passed away.

Medical examiners ruled the death an accident. However, the CDSS is required by law to respond since the incident happened at a licensed childcare facility, Oscar Ramirez, a spokesman for the CDSS told the NCT.

Ramirez also said that the school has been cited for “physical plant violations.”

In 2008, investigators found dirty carpet and torn napping mats. In May 2011, they found “debris that could be a hazard” to small children in the side yard, as well as an uncovered barbeque grill.

Ramirez said these citations were “not out of the ordinary” for a school with 125 students.

On Wednesday, Howell’s mother Aja told NBC San Diego that she doesn’t blame the school for her son’s death, calling it an accident.

"This was Tyler's home, everyone was with him till the moment he was gone,” she said. “I don’t want any parents to be afraid to come here."

Howell added that her son’s death was an accident, and that she still believes the school is a “wonderful place.

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