The 12-year-old victim on a snowbank collapsed in front of an Arlington Heights church on Sunday died as a result of suffocation and hypothermia, officials said Monday.
Esther Jung, of Elk Grove Village, was killed by a snowbank trap, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office, which performed an autopsy on Monday. The office ruled that his death was accidental.
Authorities say the snow fort collapsed on Esther and a 9-year-old girl outside Rothem Church, 106 E. College Drive, where they played on Sunday afternoon. Esther was the pastor's daughter, according to Jae Kim, the great-uncle of the 9-year-old girl.
While the snow covered Esther completely, Sophia Shin, 9, was stuck in her chest and screaming for help, Kim said.
She yelled, "Help me, help me," but nobody heard, "Kim said outside the church on Monday morning.
Girls attended services with their families when they went out to play, police said. After they had not returned approximately an hour later, the family members began looking for them and found them under the snow. Authorities say the girls had been playing in the snow bank and built an improvised fort, which then collapsed.
The rescue crews responded to the scene at 2:41 p.m. and the girls were transferred to the Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. Esther was pronounced dead at 4:30 p.m., according to the coroner's office.
The 9-year-old girl was treated for hypothermia and was held up for observation, authorities said.
Kim described Esther as an energetic and intelligent student.
She was a sixth grade student at Collins Elementary School in Schaumburg, where the school principal spoke with the girl's family on Monday to provide support and resources they might need, according to Terri McHugh, spokeswoman for District 54 of the city of Schaumburg.
While the school was not in session on Monday for the Martin Luther King Day holiday, the counselors will be available early Tuesday morning for any student or school staff who also needs support, McHugh said.
The police described the incident as a "tragic accident" and said that there was no suspicion of foul play.
• The Daily Herald editor Lauren Rohr contributed to this report.