Friday 19 January 2018

Heartbroken parents in safety plea after fatal toddler window plunge

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

THE heartbroken parents of a toddler who died in a fall from a fourth-floor apartment want steps taken to ensure such a tragedy can never happen to another family.

Their call follows a coroner's warning to all landlords renting to tenants with children to ensure their properties are adequately child-proofed.

Garda scene investigators discovered that 21-month-old Sebastian Kus plunged four floors as a direct result of faulty safety catches on a bedroom window, which were found to be "flimsy".

Parents Kamil Kus and Emmanuele Pereira Kus told how they "would not wish it upon their worst enemy" to endure the suffering they were going through as a result of their son's death.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Kus told the Irish Independent that his wife was now six months pregnant with another son but said they would never get over the loss of Sebastian.

The couple were supporting one another as best they can, he said, adding: "It's like a scar for life and you cannot erase it."

The inquest at Dublin City Coroner's Court heard Sebastian died from severe head injuries sustained in an accidental fall from the window of a fourth-floor apartment at the Tramyard development, Inchicore, Dublin, on April 25 last year.

His toy rattle was later found close to where his body was discovered.

Ms Kus told how Sebastian had woken at 7.15am and she sat with him watching cartoons on TV and playing until he grew sleepy and she made him a bottle at 9.17am. She put Sebastian to bed in his room, ensured the window was closed, pulled the curtains and left him.

Fireman

Shortly after, a fireman banged at her door and asked if she had a baby. Ms Kus replied that she had but he was asleep. She went into the room and realised he was not there. The curtains were open and so was the window.

After Sebastian's death, she tried to reconstruct what he could have done to open the window and found that when she pushed it a second time, the safety catches popped up, opening the window fully.

Mr Kus told the inquest how he had asked the landlady for a key for the windows but it was never provided.

Neighbour Connla Ni Ruiseal was the first to notice from her apartment window an object that looked like the crumpled body of a child lying on the ground.

She rang the emergency services and the boy was rushed to Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin where he died shortly afterwards.

Garda scene examiner Mark Houlihan found two spring-loaded safety restrictors on the window were not functioning properly. "They're very weak – it wouldn't take much to make them go slightly off (synch)," he explained.

Coroner Brian Farrell said that without a key, the window was "clearly not child-proof", adding that the safety catches were "obviously not reliable".

Garda Houlihan agreed, saying: "The whole thing looked flimsy."

Landlady Elizabeth Laffin said all the safety catches were working when she let the apartment and she was not aware of any design issues.

The coroner returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

Irish Independent

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