Donors help parents pay for the burial of their 3-year-old daughter

Erin Washington, 3, died Saturday.
Erin Washington, 3, died Saturday. GoFundMe

The 3-year-old girl who was rushed to the hospital Saturday after playing at Monkey Joe’s died of natural causes, medical examiners have found.

“Therefore this case will be closed with no foul play or negligence found from this investigation,” a statement issued Monday afternoon by the Matthews Police Department said.

A GoFundMe account set up for funeral expenses identified the girl as Erin Shardè Washington, the daughter of Eric and Nykesha Washington.

“She was the most hilarious little girl,” says a statement on the GoFundMe account. “Although she was only 3 years old, she touched more lives than people who live to be 100.”

The statement goes on to say the family needs help with the financial burden of the funeral so it can focus on grieving. “Anything helps whether it's though donating, sharing or simply just praying for them.” The account has a $4,000 goal and had about $7,000 along with heartfelt messages from many of the more than 200 donors as of Monday afternoon.

“I wanted you guys to know that I was across the hall from you in the ER,” wrote donor Amy Purser. “We could hear your cries. We didn't know what was going on but we knew you were hurting bad. Since the news has broke, we were able to put the puzzle pieces into place. I wanted to hug all of you as we were leaving.”

Matthews police said someone called 911 about a girl “in distress” at 4:53 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Observer’s news partner, WBTV. The girl was taken to a hospital and later died.

Monkey Joe’s is a play and party area for children. The company’s Website says trained staff observe all play areas but parents are encouraged to monitor their children at all times. There are separate play areas for children 3 and younger.

Kelly Ronna, a spokesperson for Monkey Joe’s, said Monday the company has gotten no indications about what caused the girl’s death.

“We have viewed the video footage,” Ronna said. “… There’s no evidence of an accident or injury at our facility.”

On Sunday, Monkey Joe’s released a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of a young child in our facility yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with this child’s family and friends during this difficult time.”