Chesterfield 1st grader dead from allergic reaction at school

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT)- A Chesterfield family wants answers after a first grader died from an allergic reaction she had at school.

Relatives want to know exactly what happened at Hopkins elementary school that led to 7-year-old Ammaria Johnson's death.

One family member said the girl, who was aware of her food allergies, went to the nurse with a rash.

Chesterfield fire took an allergic reaction call from Hopkins elementary about 2:30 Monday. When they arrived Johnson was in cardiac arrest. She died on the way to Chippenham hospital.

The family believes the child may have eaten a peanut, but is also allergic to other foods including eggs.

Dr. Barry Feinstein, who specializes in food allergies, said peanuts are the most dangerous and it only takes seconds for symptoms to show, like hives or swelling.

"In extreme cases it can cause anaphylaxis which is shortness of breath, wheezing and respiratory collapse.  It's one of the few food allergies that can be fatal," said Feinstein with Advanced Allergy and Asthma of Virginia.

Feinstein said he was asked to review the Chesterfield Schools allergy policy last fall.

"It was an excellent plan in fact I read through the entire plan and found it to be very thorough," said Feinstein.

Feinstein said it walks school staff through the steps to identify a child with an allergy.

"It looks great on paper but when you're talking about something a reaction that can occur in seconds or minutes at the most it's hard sometimes with the most extreme examples," said Feinstein.

In extreme cases, Feinstein said children carry Epi-pens with life-saving medication.

"Then it goes generally in the leg it's held there for about three or four seconds then removed," said Feinstein.

Chesterfield fire officials couldn't say whether one was used in this case.

"The family has a lot of questions they want to know what happened at that school," said Ferguson.

Chesterfield schools released a statement late today, saying its thoughts and prayers are with Johnson's family.

Grief counselors are being made available to staff and students.

Letters about Ammaria Johnson's death went home to Hopkins elementary parents.

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