11-year-old boy dies of hypothermia after playing in snow during Texas storm

At least 47 people across southern states are believed to have died as a direct result of the storm

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 19 February 2021 16:34 GMT
Winter storm continues to cripple small Texas towns 
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An eleven-year-old boy in Texas has died of suspected hypothermia only hours after playing in the snow for the first time.

Cristian Pavon Pineda of Conroe, north of Houston, is the latest fatality from the huge winter storm that swept across the state, knocking out power and water to millions of people for days.

At least 47 people across the southern states are believed to have died as a direct result of the storm.

It was his “first time [seeing snow]. That’s why he was excited outside,” Cristian’s mother Maria Elisa Pineda told The Houston Chronicle. “Everything was well. He was happy that day. He was not at all sick.”

On Sunday, Ms Pineda took photos and videos of her son frolicking in the snow wearing a red hoodie. After half an hour he came inside to get warm, his gloves soaked from playing.

That night Cristian shared a bed with his three-year-old step-brother in the family’s mobile home. The power went out in the early hours of Monday morning.

Although his step-brother was OK the next morning, by the afternoon Cristian had not risen. He was found dead and Ms Pineda and her husband contacted the police.

While hypothermia is suspected, the official results of an autopsy will not be known for several weeks.

The Pineda family had emigrated to Texas from Honduras two years previous and were unused to the freezing temperatures that gripped the state this week. Their trailer home offered little insulation.

A GoFundMe has been set up by a family member to help with expenses, including transporting his body to Honduras where his grandparents and other family live.

Texas’ electricity grid, which stands separate from national grids for the eastern and western halves of the US, was not able to withstand either extra demand, nor the freezing conditions — much of it is not protected against such extreme weather. At the peak, more than four million customers were without electricity, with outages lasting days.

As the week wore on, Texans have found themselves faced with iced-over roads and empty supermarket shelves. Those who can have lined up to refill gas canisters and at food banks. Others have camped inside homes around fireplaces.

More than 13 million Texans have been advised to boil their drinking water and pipes are bursting inside houses and apartments across the state causing serious damage that will take months to fix.

Governor Gregg Abbott has been criticised for both the response to the storm, and the apparent lack of preparation.

The greatest anger continues to be directed towards Senator Ted Cruz and his well-documented vacation to Mexico at the height of the crisis.

On his return to the state protesters waited both at the airport and outside his house. One held a sign that read: “24 dead Ted!”

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