More loss for grieving family

21:59, Jun 25 2012
Olly Taylor
INCOMPREHENSIBLE: 21-month-old Olly Taylor died on June 17. His parents Hamish and Kelley Taylor also suffered loss last year when Hamish's father, and Olly's grandfather, Brian Taylor died in the CTV building collapse in the earthquake on February 22, 2011.

Hamish Taylor was this week expecting to be following a royal commission of inquiry into a building collapse that killed his father. But the family have been thrust into another tragedy – the death of Taylor's young son.

It should have been a day like any other Saturday.

Young Olly Taylor got out of bed, and his dad made him porridge for breakfast.

The 21-month-old had been up all night coughing, and things were not improving. His parents, Kelley and Hamish Taylor, assumed it was simply a bad case of croup.

The day before, on Friday, June 15, Kelley had taken him to see two GPs, but as a precaution the couple decided to take him to hospital.

They could never could have dreamed that only hours later their "delightful" boy would be dead.


Olly's funeral service will be held today.

In a cruel twist of fate, it falls in the same week that the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission begins its eight-week hearing into the collapse of the Canterbury Television building in the February 2011 quake.

One of the victims was Hamish's father, Brian Taylor.

Brian was managing director of King's Education, based on the third floor of the CTV building.

He was one of the 115 people killed after the building pancaked, witnesses say, only seconds after the violent shaking started.

Hamish said yesterday that he had planned to follow the hearings, but his son's death had changed everything.

He and his wife now face at least a seven-week wait to find out from the coroner what caused Olly's death.

Christchurch Hospital doctors spent hours trying to keep the toddler alive but were at a loss over what caused the boy to go downhill so fast and why they could not save him.

Kelley said her son's death was "not normal".

"We went into the hospital thinking they'll know what to do and we'll be home in the afternoon," she said.

By the time they got to hospital, Olly was too weak to cough.

After he was admitted to the emergency department he was given steroids, Ventolin, adrenalin and oxygen, but things did not improve.

"We were told some children take longer to respond. We were told he was an extreme case," Kelley said. "I guess by that time they were starting to second-guess themselves."

Pneumonia had not shown on Olly's first X-ray on the Saturday morning, but it appeared later in the day.

"He never turned the corner," she said.

Doctors tried to get an oxygen mask on Olly, but he had not liked it being on his face.

"He was at the age where you couldn't explain that it was the best thing for him. As a parent, it was heartbreaking," she said.

"Thoughts of actually losing him did creep in. Shock plays a big part.

"You feel sick, but shock just carries you through. That's where we've been through the last week too – just in shock."

Olly went into cardiac arrest about 9pm on the Saturday.

Doctors managed to stabilise him enough to transfer him from the high dependency unit into intensive care.

They were giving him CPR but it got to the point where they continuously had to restart his heart to keep him alive, Kelley said. The couple finally made the heartbreaking decision for them to stop.

Olly was declared dead about 1am on the Sunday.

Kelley said her son had been a "perfectly healthy" young boy and had started to become unwell on the Thursday before his death. It had seemed like a normal cough.

"This just doesn't happen any more. Babies don't just go into hospital and die."

Her son was "full of life, an exceptionally loved and adored little boy" who wanted to be involved in everything, from sport to baking and being in the garden.

A good eater, many of the words he could say were the names of food. Olly also loved music and would dance along with his outgoing sister, Maddy, 5, who he called "baddy", Kelley said.

"He was a little boy with everything in the world to live for. It just doesn't make any sense at all. There are a lot of people can't believe a little guy like this is gone."

She said losing Brian last year and now their son felt unfair. As with Brian in the CTV building collapse, the family had been left without an explanation.

Having Olly, then 5 months, around had been a welcome distraction from the pain of losing Brian.

"It's particularly cruel for a guy to lose his father and his son," Kelley said.

Hamish said getting through the CTV hearings had been "the next thing on the horizon" in grieving for his dad.

His son's death meant he would come back to the inquiry outcome later. "Just as you think you are getting through one event, this happens."

His mother, Prue, would follow the hearings.

Kelley said the family did not blame the GPs or the hospital doctors for their son's death, and were grateful for everything they did to try to work out what was wrong and keep their son alive.

"This was just so unusual. The paediatrician said he had never seen anything like it in 28 years."

They were putting their hope in the coroner's inquest, she said.

"We will certainly not be resting until we have some answers."

The Press