Hispanic teen suffocates under four layers of San Marcos blankets
December 19, 2011 5:00 p.m. PDT
Los Angeles, CA -- A warning has gone out to Hispanic parents cautioning them not to excessively layer their kids with thick San Marcos blankets after a teen that was covered with four such blankets suffocated to death this weekend.
Samuel Gallegos, a 15 year old freshman at Washington High School, died of asphyxiation during the early hours on Saturday, according to the county coroner.
The cause: the extra layers of thick, impermeable San Marcos blankets that various relatives piled on him throughout the night to shield him from the cold.
According to the police report, the teen's room did not have the proper heating equipment to keep it warm during the winter. As a consequence, the teen's mother, grandmother, aunt, and older sisters would routinely check on the sleeping teen to determine if an extra blanket was needed.
On Saturday night, those caring, attentive actions took a turn for the worse: not one but three different relatives (the mother, grandmother, and older sister) walked into the teenís room at different times and -- noticing that the room was freezing cold -- each added a super-thick, heavy-duty San Marcos blanket on top of the high school student.
Their testimony states that not one of them was aware of each otherís actions; therefore, they did not bother turning the light on to determine if an extra blanket was actually needed; they simply assumed that the teen had only one blanket, as he usually did.
After the fourth blanket was added by the sister, the layers formed an airtight seal that cut off all oxygen to the teen. Within seconds, he fell into unconsciousness and died just a few moments later, the report concludes.
Hispanic families nationwide are shocked by the news.
Immediately after the incident became known, concerned parents began reassessing their affinity towards the ever so dependable blankets, and reports have begun to surface that this may not have been the first tragedy stemming from the liberal use of San Marcos blankets.
In Dallas, TX, during a Spanish radio show discussing the incident on Monday morning, dozens of teens called in with stories of how they had almost been killed under similar circumstances.
"I once woke up drenched in sweat, feeling as if I was being crushed," said Juan Mendoza, a junior at Polk High School. "It turns out, my mother had thrown two extra San Marcos blankets on top of me during the night because she thought I was cold -- nearly damn killed me."
It is common practice for parents to add extra layers of blankets on top of their sleeping children, but most people agree that the plush, super-thick Korean-style San Marcos blankets are not your ordinary type of blankets and should be used with caution.
"Two of our soft, warm blankets is all you need to stay warm. Three... that's excessive, but four is outright dangerous -- if you are not crushed under the weight, you run the risk of suffocating," said San Marcos Blankets spokesperson Victor Nall. "That is why every single one of our blankets comes with the appropriate warning label not to layer them carelessly."
Police are still investigating the circumstances to determine if reckless endangerment charges should be brought against the parents.