The weekend death of an 11-year-old boy in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates appears to be an accident, officials said Monday.
Allen Fernandez was found injured in a wooded area Saturday behind his home with a puncture wound in his chest.
"He plays in the backyard, but we don't understand why he went past the gate," the boy's cousin, Raquel Eng, said Monday. "He was a jokester. He was just -- he loved nature. He was a curious child."
Grief counselors were on hand Monday at Timber Trails Elementary School, where Fernandez was a fifth grader, to remember a young man that many say had a bright future.
"Our hearts and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family on this loss of their child. It's unimagineable," said school district U-46 spokesman John Heiderscheidt.
AJ, as his family called him, went outside to play in his backyard around 1:30 p.m. Saturday. About 45 minutes later, family members said they went looking for him after not seeing or hearing from him for some time.
When they found him near a forest preserve that borders the family's backyard, the fifth grader was unconscious and not breathing with some kind of puncture wound to his chest.
He died at St. Alexius Medical Center a little more than an hour later. An autopsy Sunday was inconclusive, leaving investigators with a mystery to piece together and questions about whether the death was an accident or part of a crime. A medical examiner’s office spokesperson said Sunday the wound was a puncture wound, but did not appear to be a gunshot wound.
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.
Neighbors held a vigil Sunday in memory of the boy.