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Virginia Juvenile Dies of Accidental Heart Attack

The state police were phoned and asked to send a trooper to formally charge Dandridge with assault. Meanwhile, Oak Ridge officials say, the youth was observed every five minutes through his cell door window. Nobody went into the cell to check on him because he appeared to have calmed down.

When the state trooper arrived 45 minutes later, he found Dandridge unconscious with a shallow pulse. The youth was transported to a hospital and pronounced dead a short time later.

Seven "correctional" employees at Oak Ridge were suspended without pay May 13 because of the incident. The FBI and state police launched separate criminal investigations.

The outcome of those investigations will undoubtedly be impacted by the medical examiner's July 22 ruling that Dandridge's death is not a homicide. "The death is classified as accidental," Robert M. Hollowy, regional administrator of the medical examiner's office, told the Washington Post.

So it was an accident. But just how does one die of an accidental heart attack? Holloway cited the specific cause of death as "acute cardiac arrhythmia precipitated by stress and acute asphyxia," the Richmond Times Dispatch reported.

A source familiar with the investigation told reporter Frank Green of the Times Dispatch that Dandridge "died of a heart attack because his larynx had closed up. There was bruising to his larynx such that he had difficulty in breathing, and the heart just tried to keep up with whatever oxygen it was getting."

Tyrone Manzy, Dandridge's uncle, disputes the medical examiner's conclusion that his nephew's death was accidental.

"It [the ME's report] tells me there was a combination of things, that he was scared to death while he was being choked to death," Manzy told the Times Dispatch.

Sources: Washington Post, Richmond Times Dispatch

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