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'I-TEAM' Investigates CPR In MN Day Care Centers

By Liz Collin, WCCO-TV

(WCCO) -- CPR training at Minnesota day cares centers is being called into question after a little girl died this summer.

Hannah Kozitza, 4, choked on a grape at her day care in North Mankato and died. That day, WCCO-TV's I-TEAM started looking into what happened.

Now, child advocates don't think the training to save children goes far enough.

Hannah's mom said Hannah had an infectious personality and an unforgettable grin. She was a girl who defined happy.

"I always picture her riding her bike and riding her 4-wheeler and swimming. Doing all the things she liked to do,"

Jenni Kozitza said.

Jenni still doesn't want to talk about what happened to Hannah that day at her day care, but the state spent months piecing together her last minutes.

When snack time started that morning in June, a worker at Golden Heart Child Care Center gave Hannah a handful of grapes. After she ate one, she covered her mouth and ran to the bathroom.

A day care worker followed, thinking she would throw up, but she didn't because she was choking. Another worker came into the bathroom to help, then called Hannah's parents at least two minutes before calling 911.

As those calls were made, the first worker started abdominal thrusts on Hannah until another worker jumped in and took over.

The state fined the day care for not following CPR procedure and calling 911 first. The state also couldn't find any proof that the first worker to help Hannah was trained in CPR.

Surprisingly, they didn't have to be trained in CPR under the law. Minnesota law states that just one person in a child care center must be trained, no matter how many kids are being cared for.

Tammy Hobson, who runs a day care out of her home, says she took a CPR class with one of the workers from Golden Heart after Hannah died. She said that it was "her first CPR training" and that she "found that very disturbing."

The day care wouldn't tell us if that employee was the same one who'd tried to help Hannah.

Bottom line, Hobson doesn't think requiring just one person to be trained goes far enough.

"Someone to take the initiative and say, 'OK, I know CPR, step back, I know what to do,'" Hobson said.

A memorial called One Bright Star in Mankato now bears Hannah's name, along with other children whose lives were lost too soon.

It's too late to know if those minutes would have made a difference for Hannah. A family left behind to grieve their little girl would do anything to find out.

"This really puts into perspective how short it is and how precious it really is," Jenni Kozitza said.

The I-TEAM did find several states that require all day care workers to be trained in CPR, including Wisconsin.

To help Hannah's family, donations can be made to her memorial fund:

Hannah Kozitza

c/o Pioneer Bank

1735 Commerce Drive

North Mankato, MN 56003

To find out more about One Bright Star in Mankato, visit their website.

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