How a Kindergartner Died Playing on the Monkey Bars

A 5-year-old girl’s innocent romp on the monkey bars at her school playground ended in unfathomable tragedy on Monday, when she died after a freak accident.

Andrea Tyrah Debruhl, a Georgia kindergartner (pictured above), was playing on the bars during school hours when she slipped and accidentally asphyxiated herself, police told WSBTV. An autopsy confirmed the cause of death. But while the coroner said it’s been ruled an accident, the investigation is not yet over, as detectives will now try to determine how Debruhl got into the position that killed her.

According to the Newton County Theme School district, in Covington, 10 teachers and paraprofessionals were on the playground, supervising students at the time. Now counselors have been put in place at the school to help anyone who needs support handling the trauma.

Debruhl’s school. (Photo: Fox 5)

Deaths associated with playground equipment are rare, according to statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, with 40 recorded between 2001 and 2008. The average age was 6. Of those deaths, 27 were the result of hangings or other asphyxiations, as with Debruhl, and seven were the result of head or neck injuries. Nonfatal incidents were more common, as, during that same timespan, an average of 218,850 preschool and elementary kids annually headed to the ER for playground-equipment related injuries.

A vigil was held Wednesday night at a local Methodist church, with more than 100 people, including children, in attendance.

A scene from Debruhl’s memorial. (Photo: Fox 5)

“She leaves a rich legacy behind, a legacy of love, a legacy that the community came together on her behalf,” Gwendolyn Green, who attended the service, told WSBTV. “I am so full at this very moment. My heart goes out to the family.”

Another supporter at the vigil, Marshall Atha, said, “They need prayer. They need love. They need friendship, and it’s just constant god’s love is what they need. I could only imagine in a time of loss like this. It just breaks my heart.”

Top photo: Debruhl family

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