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11-year-old dies after suffering puncture wounds to chest

The home an 11 year old boy who died from puncture wound thhe suffered Forest Preserve Hoffman Estates. Sunday April

The home of an 11 year old boy who died from a puncture wound that he suffered in the Forest Preserve of Hoffman Estates. Sunday, April 22, 2012 | Brian Jackson~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: April 22, 2012 11:13PM

Hoffman Estates police were out in force Sunday afternoon, ringing bells and interviewing neighbors to try to figure out what caused the death of 11-year-old Allan Fernandez.

Fernandez’ home abuts a forest preserve.

Family members have told police Fernandez went through the gate his father built in the fence between his backyard and the forest preserve Saturday afternoon. When he didn’t come back after 45 minutes, family members went out to look for him and found him with what authorities describe as a “puncture wound” to his chest.

The Cook County Medical Examiner said the wound did not appear to be a gunshot wound, although it was not clear Sunday what caused the injury or how he became hurt. An autopsy Sunday was inconclusive and was pending a police investigation, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Rose Olea, a Fernandez family cousin, said the grief-stricken family doesn’t know how the boy died. “The police are still doing their investigation,” Olea said. We’re still waiting for them to learn what happened.” She said the boy was in the 5th grade and liked basketball. “He was very bright and very active in the church with his family.”

Neighbors who have been interviewed and re-interviewed by police are left to worry about whether they should be nervous in this far west suburban suburb where they thought they were safe. Could it have been some kind of accident that injured Fernandez or was he attacked?

Next-door neighbor Sid Parakh, 34, looked out his back windows Sunday at the huge backyard area that he and the other neighbors on the East Side of Mallard Lane shared. There are no fences between the yards. Only a 6- or 7-foot high wooden fence that separates the subdivision from the Cook County Forest Preserve’s Shoe Factory Road Woods.

But Hoffman Estates police Sgt.Darrin Felgenhauer assured residents “We have plenty of police in the area. There’s nothing to be worried about. Right now there’s no cause for alarm or anything to indicate there’s a cause for alarm for the residents of that neighborhood.”

Not far beyond the fence, Parakh said, runs the Canadian National Railroad. Parakh has often looked out from his upstairs deck over the bit of woods between the fence and the railroad and has never seen anyone wandering around.

But police have asked neighbors if they saw anyone suspicious in the last few days and Parakh is concerned.

The only opening in the fence was behind Fernandez’ home, where his father, who works for Comcast, built a gate into the fence so he could store equipment in the woods, sort of like a backyard shed. A Hoffman Estates police officer stood guard by that open gate Sunday afternoon.

Parakh will remember Fernandez as “a nice kid” who used to stop and play with Parakh’s 3-year-old son while riding his bike around the neighborhood. Family and friends of the Fernandez’ family stopped by the house to pay respects Sunday, walking under the yellow crime-scene tape around the house that police would hold up for them.

Fernandez was pronounced dead at 3:02 p.m. Saturday at St. Alexius Medical Center, an hour and 16 minutes after police were called to his home.

Jimmie Whitelow, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said the agency is not currently investigating allegations of abuse in connection to Fernandez’s death.

Hoffman Estates police are investigating the death with the assistance of the Major Case Assistance Team and the Cook County Forest Preserve police.

Anyone with information is urged to call Hoffman Estates Police at (847) 882-1818.

Contributing: Staff Reporters Art Golab and Allison Horton

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