It's an activity that many of us did while growing up: climbing trees. But for this 7-year-old boy, such a familiar activity turned tragic when a karate belt he was wearing snagged on a branch, as he tried to jump down, strangling him.
“He likes to climb in the tree,” said Aaris Conway's mother, Evelyn Briggs, “and it’s such a tragedy. Tangling and choking on his belt. It’s horrible.”
The 7-year-old karate enthusiast was found unresponsive hanging from his tree in his backyard along the 1000 block of Angela Court in East Lancaster on Friday evening.
“This is my baby," Briggs said, choking back tears. "I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m lost.
KTLA reports that Briggs was in the house when her son, Aaris Conway, went into the backyard to play.
"He wanted to come outside to play basketball," Briggs told KTLA. "Then he climbs in the tree that [the neighborhood kids] all climb in."
Twenty minutes later, the yard fell silent. So Briggs and her other son, Aaron went out to investigate.
And that's when they discovered Aaris –– hanging from the tree.
“I was screaming," Briggs told CBS news, reliving the horrific scene.
But then she realized that she needed to get him down. She and his brother Aaron got him untangled. "He fell and I shook him. I did chest compression, CPR,” she says, her voice trailing off.
A neighbor called 911 as they tried to revive the boy. But it was too late.
Aaron told KTLA he tried his best to save his little brother. Now he can't stop crying. "I was trying and trying not to pour any more tears," he said, "but I can't help it."
"He was my little brother, and I love him," he told KTLA.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told KTLA it does believe his death was a tragic accident, but they are waiting for the coroner to confirm.
“Words cannot explain the way I feel after losing a 7-year-old child," the boy’s devastated mother told CBS2. He was so full of life. He had so much more to do and accomplish.”
Briggs told CBS that her son loved climbing trees, karate, sports, gospel music, church and skateboarding.
And Briggs has a warning for other parents: "Every minute counts," Briggs told KTLA. "It takes a second."
“Just be careful,” Briggs added, when she spoke with CBS news, “things happen so sudden.”
This isn't the first time an accident of this nature has happened. The Huffington Post reports that a similar accident occurred earlier this year in Westchester, Calif., where a 4-year-old girl was found hanging in a closet. Similarly, the child was playing in the house, and her family began to look for her as soon as they stopped hearing her playing.