Jonathan Jewth, 9-Year-Old New York City Boy, Dies After Choking On Meatballs In School Cafeteria

12/18/2011 10:22 am ET

NEW YORK -- Family members and a witness say a New York City fourth grader choked on meatballs during lunch earlier this month while school cafeteria workers stood by. The boy later died.

A parent at the school, Andrea Perez, told the newspaper she saw the boy choking but cafeteria workers did nothing. She said at one point they yelled at him to put his fingers down his throat.

"He was on the ground and not moving after a while," Perez said through a Spanish-speaking translator. "Nobody was paying attention and they didn't know how to give aid, nobody knew what to do."

She said she did not know how to resuscitate the boy so she called 911 and started screaming for help. Another parent tried to help the boy, the newspaper reported.

Jewth was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center. Jonathan's family told the newspaper he suffered brain damage and died Monday.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said his death was a tragedy. Education officials haven't responded to requests for comment about the family's and Perez's account.