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Grandfather describes nightmare of toddler's death

By Gheni_Platenburg
Aug. 5, 2011 at 3:05 a.m.

Ray Vasquez recalls how his 18-month-old grandson, Crow Gabriel Hatfield,  died in his arms on Thursday in Port Lavaca. "I told him, 'Stay with us, Crow.' I'm glad I was able to see him and he was able to see me just one last time," Vasquez said. Early Thursday morning,  Port Lavaca Police Department officers responded to a call  on South  Guadalupe Street of a  child not breathing, according to a news release from the police department. Resuscitation efforts were not successful.

The pitter-patter of little feet was absent from the Vasquez household on Friday morning.

Two days after 18-month Crow Gabriel Hatfield died of what authorities believe was a heat-related death, his family continues to struggle with the deafening silence brought on by Crow's death.

"I could always tell when he was awake," his grandfather Ray Vasquez said through tears. "Since it's a big house, he was all over the place."

About 2:05 a.m. Thursday, Port Lavaca Police Department officers were called to a house at 603 S. Guadalupe St. regarding a child not breathing, according to a news release from the police department.

Upon arrival, Sgt. Kelly Flood tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Crow.

Calhoun County EMS transported the child to Memorial Medical Center Emergency, where he was pronounced dead.

Calhoun County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Hope Kurtz, also responded to the scene.

Vasquez said that earlier on Thursday, he and a handful of other family members had enjoyed a barbecue at their house in celebration of Crow's grandmother's birthday.

Although Crow and his 19-year-old parents, John Anderson and Ashley Vasquez, were invited to the barbecue, they did not show back up at the house they shared with Vasquez until after the sun had begun to set.

Vasquez said he did not know the whereabouts of Crow and his parents prior to them coming home.

Once they did arrive at the house, Vasquez said Crow's mother took her son upstairs.

A few hours later, she ran downstairs calling out for help.

Vasquez said he checked Crow's mouth and gave him CPR, which prompted the child to open his eyes and take a deep breath.

The recovery, however, was short-lived.

Moments later, Crow turned blue and his hands grew cold.

"I told him, 'Stay with us, Crow,'" said Vasquez, who recalled holding him in his arms the entire time. "I'm glad I was able to see him and he was able to see me just one last time."

Hours later, Vasquez said he received the news that his grandson had died.

"I just fell back on my bed," he said. "It's like it was a nightmare and wasn't real."

Since Crow's death, the family has tried to focus on more positive memories of their loved one.

"He was a good baby," said Crow's grandmother, Angela Anderson, 43. "Everybody loved him."

"I bought him a gift on my birthday," Crow's uncle Marcellino Vasquez, 41, said in melancholy voice. "If I could develop my camera, I could show you pictures I took of him opening up a remote controlled car.

The tree in front of the front of the home, affectionately known as the "Crow's Nest" because of Crow's affinity for sitting in its branches, will be another long-lasting reminder of their loved one.

Port Lavaca Police Chief John Stewart and Det. Derek Walton traveled to Austin where they briefed the Travis County medical examiner on the initial details of the investigation and witnessed the autopsy, according to the news release.

The initial investigation did not show any obvious cause of death, but it is believed that the death could be partially heat-related, according to the news release.

An investigation of evidence to determine why the death occurred could take several weeks.

In the meantime, detectives said they will be interviewing Crow's parents, who also have a 5-month-old son, further about their son's death.

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