4-Year-Old Hangs Himself in Tragic Fitting Room Accident

4-year-old Ryu Pena tragically died after hanging himself in a thrift store dressing room
WCCO-TV News

When I became a mother, I made a promise to myself: to do my best to ensure my children can live the best life possible, and to protect them from all dangers. But one thing I've come to realize is that unexpected things can and often do happen -- which is why my heart breaks hearing this story. Ryu Pena was a 4-year-old boy who accidentally hanged himself in a Minnesota thrift store dressing room after wandering away from his grandmother.

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I can only imagine the agony, guilt, and suffering this family is feeling right now after an accident that, honestly, could happen to any parent.

Like many little kids, 4-year-old Ryu stepped away from his grandma at the Again Thrift and More in Mankato, Minnesota. Winding up inside of a dressing room, the little boy closed the door and climbed on a bench where police say Ryu's hoodie got caught on a coat hook that caused the poor boy to suffocate.

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"We believe that he got himself caught up on a coat hook within that dressing room area and couldn't free himself from it," Jeremy Clifton, a commander with Mankato Public Safety, told WCCO News. 

The thought of being this boy's grandmother -- searching aimlessly in and out of the store with employees, only to find someone carrying Ryu's body and being unsuccessful in reviving him -- gives me chills.

As much as I pride myself on trying to be as vigilant as possible, there have been times when my 3- and 1½-year-old boys snuck inside a rack of clothes at stores or turned a corner too quickly while running down an aisle. And while I'm so thankful nothing this heartbreaking has occurred, I can't help but feel pain thinking about how Ryu's family is coping with all of this -- including his grandmother.

Sadly, accidents like this only take an instant to occur, as little ones are notorious for slipping away inside stores.

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Since this tragedy, a GoFundMe page has been set up in Ryu's honor to cover the expenses associated with the 4-year-old's funeral. "I thank the Lord for giving me the privilege to have had borrowed an angel," Denyce Gonzalez, Ryu's mother, wrote in the comments to those who generously donated.

I truly hope Ryu's family is able to feel the warmth of peace and comfort again one day, as something like this is such a crippling blow. My heart aches for this family, and for others who experience such unthinkable tragedies.

Rest in peace, sweet Ryu. 

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