YUMA, Ariz. — An Arizona family is left confused, devastated and looking for answers about just what happened during a young boy’s dental appointment.
The family of Zion Jay Gastelum said the 2-year-old died after a dentist appointment in Yuma last month. Zion’s uncle told ABC15 the child’s parents dropped him off at Kool Smiles Dentist on December 16 for a crown and filling, and somehow either during or after the process, it appears Zion stopped breathing.
According to family, Zion was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center and then flown to Maricopa County, where he died several days later.
ABC15 confirmed the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office is handling the case and the cause and manner of death remain pending.
Gastelum passed away on December 20.
“Everything about him was just lovely,” said Zion’s grandmother, Norma Yarrito. “A lovely, lovely little boy.”
In digging into what happened, ABC15 reached out to multiple agencies. The Yuma Fire Department confirms they responded to Kool Smiles in December for an “emergency medical response.” The Yuma Police Department confirms they assisted fire officials with a “medical issue” at Kool Smiles on December 16.
Yarrito told ABC15 her grandson’s funeral services were held Wednesday night.
She remembers a very bright light in the young boy.
“He was just the apple of everybody’s eye and the light in their hearts,” Yarrito said. “He was just so loving that everybody loved him.”
Citing HIPAA and other restrictions that come with privacy laws, a company spokeswoman for Kool Smiles declined further comment, but did email the following statement:
The Kool Smiles family expresses our sincere, heartfelt sympathy to the family of Zion Gastelum. Our hearts are breaking for Zion’s family at this very sad time. Since Kool Smiles’ founding nearly twenty years ago, we have safely and compassionately provided needed dental care through more than 19 million patient visits. Our dedicated dentists, anesthesiologists and the rest of our Kool Smiles family join the community to mourn this tragic loss.
Meanwhile, Yarrito remembers her grandson as constantly having a smile on his face, and she offers advice to other parents.
“I want them to know that when they take their kid to doctors or a dentist, they need to be present at all times,” she said. “Just love your kids with all your heart because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Gastelum’s family has setup a GoFundMe page to help raise money to cover funeral expenses.