Pierce County deputies investigating death of 11-year-old girl

MIDLAND, Wash. — Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies said they were investigating the death of an 11-year-old girl days after she was involved in an incident at Ford Middle School.

On Monday, relatives identified the girl as Lenyia Swansey Fa’afiti and wrote to KIRO 7 that she was kind, giving and sassy. “She was an amazing soul, who was resilient and fearless,” they wrote.

Family members are trying to focus on her life while there are big questions about how she died.

Deputies told KIRO 7 that the girl’s parents found her unresponsive in bed last week and called 911.

Authorities said an ambulance took her to the hospital. She died a few days later.

When deputies started investigating, they said the girl’s parents reported that she had been assaulted while attending Ford Middle School earlier in the week.

On Saturday, Franklin Pierce Schools confirmed that the girl was one of their students. They said they received a video of an incident on the school campus.

Administrators added that the video has since been passed on to the sheriff’s office.

“Franklin Pierce Schools is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of an 11-year-old student enrolled at Ford Middle School,” administrators said. “We share in grieving this loss with the student’s family and friends.”

Deputies told KIRO 7 that they never received a report about the alleged assault until they were notified by school district officials.

Moreover, district employees said they didn’t know about the case until after the girl was hospitalized in critical condition.

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday to determine how she died.

“Until a cause of death comes back from the medical examiner’s office, we won’t jump to any conclusions and say what the cause of death was,” said Sgt. Darren Moss of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.