Wednesday 23 October 2019

'I tried to snap it but couldn't, I was screaming' - mum of toddler strangled by blind cord in accident

Heartbroken: Alice O’Sullivan, mother of tragic toddler Leah Troy, at Cork Coroner’s Court
Heartbroken: Alice O’Sullivan, mother of tragic toddler Leah Troy, at Cork Coroner’s Court

Ralph Riegel

A thirteen-month-old toddler was accidentally strangled after getting caught on a blind cord in her bedroom.

A Cork Coroner's inquest issued a safety plea after hearing harrowing details of the death of little Leah Troy for all parents to be aware of the potential dangers posed by blinds and curtains.

Coroner Philip Comyn heard that while the home-made blinds in the Delaney Park, Dublin Hill, Cork, home of Leah's parents, Michael Troy (32) and Alice O'Sullivan (28), were fully equipped with a safety cleat for the main draw cord, the Roman-style blinds also had rear support strings.

It was one of these three support strings which little Leah accidentally became tangled in after being placed in a travel cot for a nap on September 11, 2018.

Five children have died in Ireland since 2005 in similar curtain and blind tragedies.

Leah's heartbroken mother, Alice, wept as she recalled the tragic events to the inquest.

Her four-year-old son, Alex, was feeling unwell so she kept him home from school. Both Alex and Leah were playing together at the family's home and their mother gave them some food.

She then brought Leah upstairs to her bedroom for a nap before going back downstairs with her son.

The toddler was carefully placed in a travel cot between her bed and the window.

"I went up to check on Leah. I knew when I went in (to the bedroom) there was something wrong. She was just staring out the window. She was almost in a kneeling position... almost standing. Her head was in a tilt."

The young mother was horrified to realise the Roman blind support string was tangled around her neck.

"I tried to snap it but I couldn't. I was screaming," she said.

Eventually, she managed to free the toddler from the string, brought her downstairs and began cardiac pulmonary resuscitation after alerting the emergency services.

Tragically, despite desperate efforts to revive the toddler, she was later pronounced dead in Cork University Hospital with her heartbroken family by her bedside.

"She was just my gorgeous baby girl - always up to mischief, curious, fun and beautiful," said Ms O'Sullivan.

The young woman's step-mother, Jude Hogan-O'Sullivan, had been asked by the couple to help make Roman blinds for their new home.

With the assistance of the couple and other family members, the blinds were installed.

All the blinds were carefully installed with special safety cleats for the main draw string.

The safety-conscious family ensured the metal cleat was installed quite high and well out of reach of the two children.

However, the blinds also had three other support cords to the rear as part of its general structure and it was one of these that the toddler somehow became tangled in.

"My world fell apart - if I hadn't made this blind, she would be alive. I feel very guilty," Ms Hogan-O'Sullivan sobbed.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said Leah died from cardiac arrest due to ligature strangulation.

The jury recorded a verdict of accidental death.

"This has been a very distressing inquest," the coroner said. "I can only begin to imagine the anguish the family are going through. This was a complete accident.

"I would ask the media present here to highlight the dangers with blinds and also the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), who have very good (safety) information dealing with blinds."

Mr Comyn said such information can be accessed from www.nsai.ie.

Irish Independent

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