Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Death of boy stumps authorities

He died in his sleep

By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIAMI TOWNSHIP — When 15-year-old Michael Pangallo didn't wake up Friday, some of his friends heard about it through the electronic grapevine, instant messaging on their computers. Others found out at church Sunday. Now waves of grief are hitting those who knew the Milford High School junior.

        They are trying to comprehend how an apparently healthy teen-ager could simply die in his sleep.

        An autopsy has provided no answers. The preliminary report indicated no apparent cause of death, said Darrell Hawkins, chief investigator in the Clermont County Coroner's Office. The conclusions of the autopsy won't be available until the toxicology report is returned in eight to 12 weeks. Even then, there's a chance no cause will be determined.

        “We don't suspect foul play, and we have no reason to suspect drugs,” Mr. Hawkins said. “But that's why we do toxicology.”

        Michael and four other boys stayed overnight at a friend's house Thursday night. The next morning when the boys couldn't wake Michael, they tried to revive him.

        The Clermont County Sheriff's Department questioned all the boys extensively, said Michael's father, Joe Pangallo, but turned up nothing that would indicate a cause.

        “We're stymied by the cause of death,” Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg said. “There is nothing that gives any indication that he died from anything other than a natural death.”

        Meanwhile, Michael's friends and family are struggling to cope with the loss.

        “It's shaken up my family once again to fulfill each day because we just never know when it will be our last,” said Chris Lemmon, of Milford, whose twin sons were classmates of Michael since first grade.

        “This community is walking around in disbelief.”

        Counselors have been available all week at Milford High School for any students who wish to drop in, Principal Larry Hooker said.

        “Everybody wants to know why,” Mr. Hooker said. “What's really hard is that we don't know why and we may never know why. Fifteen-year-olds aren't supposed to die and there's no easy way to accept that.

        “Michael Pangallo was a wonderful young man; a tremendous student and outstanding athlete and very popular.”

        He played second base for Milford High School's junior varsity baseball team, and his teammates “have been hit the most because they spent so much time together,” Mr. Hooker said.

        A wake was at Milford High School on Tuesday night. Mass of Christian burial is 10 a.m. today at St. Elizabeth Seton Church. Burial is at Greenlawn Cemetery. Memorials: Michael J. Pangallo Scholarship Fund at any Fifth Third Bank.


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