A TODDLER choked to death on a 5cm screw after swallowing it while out of his mother's sight for seconds.
Heartbroken mother, Kamila Crupa, said she initially thought her 13-month-old son, Mikolaj, had struck his head when he suddenly collapsed onto the kitchen floor of the family's home in Bandon, Co Cork.
Mrs Crupa told a Cork coroner's inquest that the toddler collapsed shortly after they had been playing in the back garden of their home.
The child briefly gained access to the garden shed but was immediately ordered out by his mother.
"He was out of my sight for only seconds and I did not see anything wrong with him when he came out.
"I told him to come out and he did. He went into the kitchen where he fell and I thought he hit his head," she said.
Mrs Crupa ran to his aid and instantly realised something was badly wrong.
"I picked him up and I knew there was something wrong. I knew it was serious.
"He was vomiting and there was a little blood. I ran to my neighbours with him for help," she sobbed. "I contacted my partner who was working in Courtmacsherry and he arrived the same time as the ambulance."
Paramedics who arrived at the family's Castle Oak home outside Bandon immediately treated the toddler for breathing difficulties. However, his condition worsened as he was being transferred to hospital.
Paramedic Andrew Ryan said they were initially informed the child had suffered head injuries in a fall.
Efforts to ventilate the boy were not effective and paramedics could not see any obstruction to his airways.
Cork University Hospital's Dr Jason van der Veldt met the ambulance on arrival and revealed that it was only when they inserted specialist viewing equipment down the boy's throat that they could see an obstruction.
However, the object was so deeply imbedded that repeated efforts to remove it failed.
Dr Van der Veldt told Mikolaj's sobbing parents that there isn't a day he doesn't think about the toddler as he has a child the same age.
"It has been going around and around in my head. I absolutely know there was nothing we could do to save him," he said.
Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said that one of the leading causes of death for children aged three and under is the ingestion of foreign objects.
She said the toddler had gone into cardiac arrest after the object had blocked his airways and triggered the collapse of both lungs.
Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane extended her sympathies to the Crupa family after returning a verdict of accidental death.