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Girl who died in snow fort near church was pastor’s daughter

Flowers are placed by snow mound where a 12-year-old girl died Sunday after a snow fort collapsed on her at Rothem Church in Arlington Heights. | Steve Lundy/Daily Herald

Flowers are placed by snow mound where a 12-year-old girl died Sunday after a snow fort collapsed on her at Rothem Church in Arlington Heights. | Steve Lundy/Daily Herald

The 12-year-old girl who died inside a snow fort in Arlington Heights was the daughter of the pastor of a nearby church, family members said Monday.

Esther Jung, of Elk Grove Village, died as a result of asphyxia and hypothermia, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, which performed an autopsy Monday. The office ruled her death accidental.

Jung, 12, and another girl, 9, were attending services with their families at Rothem Church at 106 E. College Dr. when the girls went outside at 2:40 p.m. to play in a nearby snowbank, according to Arlington Heights police and the medical examiner.

At some point, the makeshift fort the girls built came crashing down and buried the girls, police said. Their families went looking for them about an hour later and found them under the snow, Arlington Heights Police Sergeant Charles Buczynski said. It is unknown how long they were trapped.

While snow completely covered Esther, 9-year-old Sophia Shin was up to her chest in snow and yelled for help, said Jae Kim, Sophia’s great uncle.

“She cried out, ‘Help me. Help me,’ but nobody heard it,” Kim said outside the church Monday.

The girls were taken to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights where Esther was pronounced dead at 4:30 p.m. Sophia was treated for hypothermia and was being held for observation.

Christopher Placek is a Daily Herald staff writer. Sun-Times wires contributed to this report.