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Dad sues after dental visit kills girl

March 13, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
On Monday, Eyewitness News brought you the story of the Riverside girl who choked to death on a tooth in a dentist's office. Now, another family has come forward with their own tragic story.Parents are asking, how can this happen? In both cases, the dentists were properly trained and credentialed. The state dental board has no record of disciplinary action against them. There is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. But that's little comfort for a grieving father.

Behind a smile captured in a family photograph, five-year old Jenna Bautista had tooth decay. It was so bad, her dentist at State College Dental Group in Anaheim had to pull it. It was a routine extraction, her father thought. But then came the sirens.

"I heard there is an ambulance in the parking lot," said Genaro Bautista.

Jenna was unconscious. A cotton roll had fallen down her windpipe. Days later, her parents grappled with the decision to remove their now brain dead little girl from life support.

"We gave her to the Lord and accepted she was dead," said Bautista.

Bautista has filed a lawsuit against the dentists at the facility. In court papers, Ramin Sadighi and Julia Tsai deny all accusations of negligence. Yet Bautista believes there must have been something the dentists could have done to prevent the accident -- even attaching a string to the cotton roll.

"If anything happened, they could pull it out," said Bautista.

As Bautista prepares for trial, a Riverside family mourns the death of seven-and-a-half-year-old Jackie Martinez. She choked on a tooth which was extracted at New Smile Family Dental. While the facts are still under investigation, dentists contacted by Eyewitness News say these kinds of accidents are highly unusual.

"If your protective reflexes are in place, I think any of us have got something in the back of your throat, you're coughing that thing out right away," said family dentist Dr. Joseph Abe. "It's very difficult, actually, to get something down a windpipe."

In the case of little Jenna, she was tranquilized - as many children are - to minimize discomfort during the procedure.

Bautista talked to three attorneys who urged him to settle out of court. Bautista says he wants to proceed to court anyway.

 

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