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A 4-year-old Minnesota child died after accidentally suffocating in a thrift store dressing room, according to police.
Ryu Pena, of Mankota, was playing in a dressing room on Saturday while his grandmother tried on clothes at the Again Thrift & More, his mother, Denise Gonzalez, told NBC News.
Ryu's grandmother called out to him, and at first he responded. When she exited the room, she looked under the other stall doors and didn't see any feet. She went outside looking for the boy, and when she came back inside someone had found Ryu's body.
Gonzalez said Ryu had taken a stool under a different fitting room door, and as he played the hood of his sweatshirt got caught on a hook. Ryu’s feet were unable to reach the floor and he suffocated, Commander Jeremy Clifton of the Mankato Police Department told NBC News.
“We believe that caused [his airway] to be choked off from being able to breathe,” Clifton said.
A preliminary evaluation by the Mankato Police Department determined Ryu accidentally asphyxiated from being suspended for a period of time.
Gonzalez said she doesn’t blame her mother or the store for her son’s death.
"Everyone who has children knows they like to play, and everyone knows he was just playing," Gonzalez said. "It could happen to anybody."
Firefighters and emergency medical responders were called to the store at around 5:30 p.m. when they attempted to revive Ryu. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
After his death, Jessica Cuevas, who said she's Ryu’s aunt, set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $11,000 for his funeral.
The page set an initial goal of $11,000 for the funeral. As of Tuesday afternoon, the fundraiser had surpassed that goal by more than $4,000.
"If I could, I would get everybody’s addresses and write a thank you note to everyone who has helped me out," Gonzalez said. "It’s not easy being a single mom, so to have all this support — I can't even express how overjoyed I am that I can bury my son the way I want to."
Gonzalez, who has two other children, said she plans to donate the extra money that has been given to her family in her son's memory.
She added that she hopes her story will lead to other parents being more aware of potential hazards to their children.
"Dressing rooms should be a full door or they [should have bars instead of hooks]," she said. "You never think of things like that."
Clifton said an investigation into Ryu’s death is ongoing.