Family: Bridgeport 8-year-old found in bedroom with window curtains around neck dies at hospital
A Bridgeport mother is grieving after losing her 8-year-old son and sharing her story exclusively with News 12 to warn other parents about what she's calling "a deadly online danger."
"I wake up in the morning thinking about him. I know he's gone. It hurts, a lot -- but I'm still in shock," said Maria Rivera.
The family of 8-year-old AJ Aguilar is grief-stricken.
"I feel like God took half of me," his mother said.
Five days ago, Rivera says she found her son clinging to life in his bedroom with a window curtain wrapped around his neck.
Rivera says the second grader was rushed to Yale New Haven Hospital, where he later died.
The family says Aguilar was both popular and outgoing.
"Beautiful, filled with joy, he was always happy," said Aguilar's brother Francisco "Javy" Morales.
The family was wondering why and how this happened, until they searched his online history. They say he had been looking around the clock at an animated character made for kids that's featured in online videos and games.
"It's talking about killing yourself, asking children to kill themselves," said a woman who asked not to be identified. She says she believes those videos led to Aguilar's death.
"He was afraid, he always seeing things in his room, he was having nightmares," said Morales.
While police say the death is still under investigation, the family says they are convinced the online content he was focused on is dangerous.
The family says an autopsy has been completed. They're waiting for the medical examiner to release the results.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the death shows just how dangerous social media can be to kids and why big tech companies need to be held accountable for the content they generate.
"This tragic story, still under investigation, may provide even more evidence of the need for the measure I've introduced protecting children, providing parents with the tools they need to safeguard their kids against this kind of dark, toxic content driven to them by big tech's algorithms," said Blumenthal.
Blumenthal says parents need more tools to protect their children, and that the "Kids Online Safety Act" he's sponsoring would help provide those tools.