12-Year-Old Girl Trapped in Snow Fort Died of Suffocation, Hypothermia

The 12-year-old girl who got trapped by a collapsed snow fort Sunday in Arlington Heights, Illinois, died of asphyxia and hypothermia, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Cook County medical examiner’s office performed an autopsy Monday on Esther Jung, the daughter of a pastor from a nearby church who was playing in a snowbank with Sophia Shin, 9, while their families attended afternoon services at Rothem Church. According to the Sun-Times, the office ruled her death accidental. The makeshift fort the girls constructed came crashing down and completely buried Esther while Sophia was covered in snow up to her chest. Their families found them trapped an hour later, Arlington Heights Police Sergeant Charles Buczynski said. “[Sophia] cried out, ‘Help me. Help me,’ but nobody heard it,” said Jae Kim, the 9-year-old's great uncle. Both girls were taken to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights where Esther was pronounced dead. Sophia was treated for hypothermia and was being held for observation.