The 12-year-old daughter of an American pastor died yesterday morning while playing in a snow fort in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as Esther Jung of Elk Grove Village. The tragedy took place just a few metres away from Esther’s father, the pastor of the Rothem Church.
Investigators said the girls left the church to dig the fort in a snowbank nearby while their parents were inside the building to attend the Sunday services.
The structure suddenly crumbled down on them, trapping the girls for approximately one hour, according to police reports.
Their parents came out from Rothem Church to look for them as they were worried after not seeing them return.
After searching for them for a while, the girls were “found underneath the snow”, Arlington Heights Police Department said.
Despite the adults immediately calling for help, it was too late to save the 12-year-old, who family members said was the youngest of pastor Jung’s three children.
Esther was suffering from cardiac arrest after being dug out of the snow. She was later pronounced dead at hospital.
Her friend survived the collapse and is being treated for hypothermia.
Police said they they were not investigating foul play but said they believe the Esther’s death was due to “a tragic accident”.
Esther was a smart, strong and beautiful 6th grade girl who dreamed to become a veterinarian, grieving family members said.
Arlington Heights is currently being gripped by a cold snap after a snowstorm battered the area during the weekend, dumping 4 to 9 inches of snow across Chicago.
Current temperatures range between -7C and -11C, with AccuWeather warning local residents in Arlington Heights should expect more “icy conditions” in the coming days.