Police test stove after toddler crushed

Last updated 19:51 07/05/2012
Te Aroha
BRUCE MERCER/Fairfax NZ

CORDONED: A police photographer takes pictures at a Te Aroha property where a 18-month-old boy was crushed by a kitchen oven yesterday.

Toddler crushed by stove

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Police are stability-testing a stove removed from a Te Aroha home after a 19-month-old boy was crushed beneath it.

Kobi George Collier was killed when a free-standing Fisher & Paykel multi-function oven fell on top of him. It appears the boy was climbing on the appliance when it toppled.

Emergency services were called to the Gilchrist St house shortly after 7am yesterday and found the boy with critical injuries.

Waikato police spokesman Andrew McAlley said emergency services tried to resuscitate him.

Hamilton St John team leader Cath Shannon said the boy was not breathing and without a pulse when staff arrived. He died at the scene. 

Shannon said although she was aware of one similar death, such incidents were "really rare" and she said the boy's death was a huge tragedy.

Police said an interim result from an autopsy carried out in Auckland today had been provided to police and the coroner.

"The preliminary post-mortem results appear consistent with the circumstances outlined to our investigators by people in the house at the time Kobi died and these results have not altered the focus of our investigation," Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Whitehead said.

A scene examination of the Te Aroha home was completed yesterday, and a forensic examination was underway on a stove, which had been removed from the house, police said.

The examination was likely to include some form of stability testing.

"There remains a number of people we still need to fully interview or speak to and the timing of these interviews will be determined by the current situation as many of these people had a close association with Kobi and his family," Whitehead said.

It was likely that the toddler's death would be referred to the coroner.

It wasn't known if any other children were home at the time.

"At this stage it's being dealt with as a very unfortunate and sudden death," McAlley said.

"Police treat all cases of sudden death in the same manner till such time information comes to hand on the contrary."

Family and friends began arriving yesterday afternoon, but were reluctant to speak.

One man, describing himself as a distant relative, said family members were "shattered" by the boy's death.

"They've just lost a young boy and they're hurting.

"At this stage we don't want to say anything until we've sat down with everyone. We're not going to speculate about what's happened and our focus is just to support the family because they're shattered."

The man said he was confident police would carefully examine what caused the accident.

Director of the child injury prevention service Safe Kids, Ann Weaver, believes it most likely the toddler had tried to stand on an open oven door.

"If the oven door is open and the child does put weight on it, it can topple over and it's very serious because they're very heavy."

She was unaware of any similar incidents occurring with the oven door not open.

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Weaver said it was a timely, yet tragic, reminder for parents to do a quick scan of their home to ensure home appliances, including ovens and televisions, were properly secured.

"When we talk about safety in the home [to parents] this is one that we talk about."

One neighbour, who declined to be named, said Kobi, his older sister and his mother had only recently moved into the Gilchrist St rental and shared the house with a number of adults.

*This story has been amended. An earlier version incorrectly named the boy as Toby. Fairfax regrets the error.

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