3-Year-Old Stockton Girl Dies During Dental Procedure

STOCKTON -- A family is looking for answers after a 3-year-old girl died while undergoing a dental procedure in Stockton on Monday.

The coroner's office has identified the girl as Daleyza Avila Hernandez.

“I don’t want this to happen to another mother like it’s happening to me,” said Araceli Avila, Daleyza's mother.

Araceli Avila spoke to FOX40 in Spanish. She says a dentist at Western Dental referred her to the Children's Dental Surgery in Stockton.

“All I did was I took my daughter to the dentist because they were going to fix her teeth, and about 30 minutes later they brought her back dead,” Avila said.

Avila shared photos of her daughter before the surgery -- vivacious and full of life.

“When we left for the hospital she ran after me, got into the van, and she was very happy,” Daleyza's father Jose Hernandez said.

Avila says she wasn't allowed inside while the surgery took place, and while waiting for her daughter she saw an ambulance.

“And I stood up and went outside because I was like 'they are coming for a kid,' but I never thought it was for my child," Avila said.

Moments later a nurse took Avila aside and said something went wrong. They told her that her daughter's heart had stopped -- that maybe she had underlying heart issues.

“My daughter was very healthy,” Avila said.

FOX40 spoke to David Thompson, the administrator of Children's Dental Surgery Center in Stockton, who says they only do general dental procedures -- such as filling cavities and putting on crowns.

Her parents say Daleyza went in to have two teeth pulled and have caps put on two other teeth.

Thompson says the girl had a reaction to the anesthetics, was stabilized and then sent to Saint Joseph's Hospital. They don't know why she died.

"It’s a terrible, terrible tragedy honestly and our thoughts and prayers are really with the family right now," Thompson said.

Thompson could not give specifics on the anesthesiologist and the dentist who performed the surgery, but he says all his staff are trained extensively and have years of experience. They always have a dentist, an anesthesiologist and two other staff members in the room while patients undergo surgery.

"We’re committed to helping kids every single day. That’s our mission, that’s why we’re here, it’s risky not everyone wants to do it," he said.

Parents are not allowed in the same room during surgery because the room has to be sterile and clean.

"It’s considered a clean room and so parents can’t actually walk back in there with their street clothes on and things like that," Thompson said.

He also said they always tell parents not to feed their child the night before surgery, as well as the risks associated with the procedures.

But all the family wants now are answers. How could a simple dental procedure end in such a tragedy?

"They haven’t said how she died and what she died of," her parents said.

The Dental Board of California released the following statement:

"The Dental Board of California is aware of the tragic situation. An investigation is underway so specific details of the case cannot be shared at this time.  Consumer protection is the board’s highest concern and we want to extend our deepest sympathy to the family."

The Stockton Police Department is also investigating. They say at this time the case isn't suspicious or considered criminal.

On Friday morning the family gathered for a vigil, in hopes that their message might shut the center down.

The family has set up a Go Fund Me page to help pay for funeral expenses.