FARMINGDALE, NY — A 12-year-old boy apparently died while trying to "stretch himself" a little taller with an exercise rope, police said Saturday.

The youngster's father, Frank DeStefano, said he went upstairs to the boy's bedroom and found him lying on the floor, gasping for air.

He was a very short kid and this bothered him.

DeStefano said of his son, Matthew, "He was a very short kid and every now and then this bothered him and he would try to stretch himself."