SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – A day after Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) sent a letter demanding answers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about the death of migrant teen staying in a federally-contracted shelter, agency officials took him inside Saturday to see the conditions for himself.
“I didn’t see anything that would lead you to believe anything has ever gone wrong in that facility,” Sen. Scott said. “But a child died. They got to be transparent. They got to tell us exactly what happened.”
While the senator said HHS provided him few details, the Honduran government is sharing more information about happened the day the boy died.
17-year-old Angel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza had only been at the Gulf Coast Jewish Community and Family Services shelter for five days before he was found unconscious and taken to Mease Countryside Hospital on Wednesday.
According to a statement from the Honduran government, after an hour of CPR attempts, the boy was pronounced dead after 9 a.m.
“if a child is in custody of our government, we expect them to be healthy and safe,” Sen. Scott said.
A statement from HHS said it is reviewing the Honduran teen’s medical records while the local medical examiner’s office conducts an autopsy to determine cause of death.
The migrant teen’s mother in Honduras told the Associate Press that her son hadn’t been sick as far as she knew. She said he had hopes of reunited with his father who left Honduras for the US years ago and that he wanted “to live the American Dream.”
His death in the Tampa Bay area comes amid growing concerns about the surge of border crossers after COVID-era asylum restrictions, known as Title 42, expired this week.
“The House just sent up to the Senate a really strong border policy and we’re hoping this administration doesn’t want to play politics with people’s lives anymore,” said Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), after she joined Senator Scott for the tour of the shelter.