Grieving mum rues not doing bed check

20:32, Jun 05 2012

Sue Cameron can't help wondering if her 16-year-old son might have lived, if only she had gone into his bedroom.

Robert Angus Cameron, known as Robbie, died on Saturday morning at the family's south Wairarapa farm, probably choking on his vomit as he slept.

The year 12 Wairarapa College boarder had been drinking beer by a bonfire with his older brother Kyle, 22, and a friend until 1am on Saturday.

"I had been up since 5.30am, I could have gone and checked on him, but there didn't seem any need," Mrs Cameron said. "I know I can't think like this but if I had just opened the door everything may have been different."

After finding him lifeless in his bed at 11am, Kyle desperately performed CPR while the family waited for a rescue helicopter to come from Wellington.

When paramedics finally arrived they had to pull Kyle away from his brother's body.


"It was too late," Mrs Cameron said. "I just never thought I would be losing one of my babies – that only happens to other people.

"It was absolutely horrific, the world just came crashing down."

The family were still awaiting autopsy results yesterday, but police confirmed alcohol was likely to be a factor in Robbie's death.

However, Mrs Cameron said while her son had had "several beers", he had been well enough to walk upstairs and log on to his computer, where he worked on a hut design and listened to music.

"He certainly wasn't paralytic, that's for sure – I only went to bed half an hour before him.

"It's clear that he vomited and we think that he choked but there was no sign of distress. Whether or not we can point the finger of blame at alcohol, who knows at this stage."

Robbie was raised on the family sheep and beef station at Pahaoa, southeast of Martinborough, alongside brothers Kyle and James, and sisters Melissa and Crystal.

All were home-schooled by Mrs Cameron before boarding during college.

A keen skier and archer, Robbie shot his first stag last month while hunting with his brothers.

"There was a lot of pride with the boys about being able to put food on the table.

"That's the sort of thing you do down here and he loved it."

He also built a "two-roomed tree house" on the property, complete with windows and corrugated iron walls.

Wairarapa College principal Mike Schwass said Robbie was "well liked and well respected" by teachers and pupils alike.

"Obviously it's had a big impact on those students who were close friends of his."

Teachers read out statements to their classes yesterday morning informing students of his death.

"Some of the students were pretty quiet, let's put it like that."

Senior Sergeant Warwick Burr said police were investigating the death on behalf of the coroner, but said it was not considered to be suspicious.

A funeral service will be held in the Carterton Event Centre on Friday, followed by a private cremation.

Contact Seamus Boyer
Wairarapa reporter
Twitter: @SeamusBoyer

The Dominion Post