Tuesday, May 11, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Teen's Death By Hanging An Accident, Family Says

WOODINVILLE - David Vallimont liked to take risks. He'd jump off barns with his friends, despite his mother's warnings that he could break a leg.

But David's family never dreamed he'd one day go too far.

The 14-year-old Northshore Junior High School student died Sunday at Evergreen Hospital Medical Center. He hanged himself Friday in the basement of his parents' Woodinville home.

"I think for him it was like standing on the edge of a cliff and saying, `How far can I lean over without falling?' " said his mother, Deanna Vallimont. "He liked the challenge, but he didn't think about the danger."

David was the third youth in the Seattle area in the past three months to die of injuries resulting from hanging.

Last month, a 17-year-old Marysville boy hanged himself in a vacant lot after telling a friend he was going to kill himself.

In March, a 12-year-old Puyallup boy hanged himself from a tree, shortly after wandering away from his mother. His death has been labeled a suicide by the Pierce County medical examiner. However, school friends thought he might have been playing a game called "Hangman" or "The Wild West Rescue," in which youths take turns being hanged from a tree and being rescued by their friends.

The King County medical examiner has not classified David's death, but his family believes it was an accident.

"He loved his friends, his family, and his God too much to do anything to hurt them," his mother said.

"This was just some stupid thing kids do," said David's brother-in-law, Jerry Simonson. He sighed. "This was a kid who had so much to live for."

David's family was proud of him and wanted people to know about his life, not just his death. According to the family, this had been an especially happy time for him.

Just two weeks earlier, he had walked his mother down the aisle at his sister's wedding and surprised his family by singing at the reception. The fifth of seven children, David, like his siblings, strongly resembled his mother, with fair hair, attractive features and a candid expression.

And like the rest of his family, David was a devout Jehovah's Witness. He attended five meetings a week at the local Kingdom Hall and was a speaker at a student ministry. He played the trumpet and French horn in his school band.

At the time of his death, he was making plans to attend his school's year-end freshman party.

Deanna Vallimont is quick to point out, however, her son was no saint. He got into his share of scrapes and was impulsive.

But, she added, he showed no indications of depression.

On Friday, David's younger brother found him hanging with a necktie around his throat and tied around an exposed beam. He thought David was kidding around, but then an older brother saw he had stopped breathing, cut him down and attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation until medics arrived.

The problem, said Simonson, was that "David thought nothing bad could ever happen to him."

That's a common theme with youngsters who take their own lives - either accidentally or on purpose - according to Dr. Michael Dobersen, with the medical examiner's office.

"It doesn't quite sink in that death is forever," he said.

Flirting with death is often a cry for help, he said.

Vallimont said religion is giving her family strength to cope with the loss of David. "He was a very loving child, a good boy, and I loved him very, very deeply," she said.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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