A three-year-old girl and her five-year-old brother have died after eating fruit from their grandmother’s garden which turned out to be poisonous.
The tragedy occurred on October 17 in the village of Montecitos in Colombia, when Jhofran Mathias Gonzalez Chaya and Amira Jhasley Chaya ate red fruit from a thevetia ahouai tree – known locally as “bola de toro” or “huevo de toro” – growing at the home, which they reportedly mistook for apples.
However, the fruit are highly poisonous, and the children began to experience convulsions soon after, according to local news publication Noticias RCN.
“The children thought they were apples and ate them. At the time, nothing happened, but hours later they started to vomit and showed all the symptoms of poisoning,” neighbour Jesus Elias Vanegas told the outlet.
According to another local publication, El Pilon, the children were rushed to Emiro Quintero Canizares Hospital and they were treated for two days before Amira Jhasley Chaya died in intensive care.
Her brother was set to be transferred to another hospital in hope of receiving better care, but he suffered a cardiac arrest on the way and also died.
The children’s father said Mathias had eaten six fruit and Amira four.
He explained that as the family were originally from Venezuela, they did not have adequate insurance, which made the family’s plight even more difficult.
“We took them to the hospital so they could be treated, but as we’re from Venezuela and the insurance they had didn’t count for much, my daughter got worse and what they did was give her serum until she was sent to the ICU, where she died,” the father told local media.
In the wake of the tragedy, Montecitos police commissioner Jesus Emilio Sanchez ordered all residents of the village to destroy thevetia ahouai trees in the area.
The children will be buried in the nearby town of Ocana, and local media reported their parents were receiving counselling and would likely return to Venezuela.