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Two Franklin, MA Children Suffer Fatal Entrapment, Suffocation in Hope Chest

Two siblings died on Sunday after they became entrapped in an old hope chest. Lexi Munroe, 8, and Sean Munroe, 7, were pronounced dead at the hospital. Police say that the Franklin, MA entrapment incident appears to be accidental. Autopsy reports are pending.

The family had purchased chest secondhand over 10 years ago. Lane Furniture, a company that has recalled millions of hope chest over the years due to safety concerns, made the hope chest. Heritage Home Group now owns Lane Furniture.

According to the Associated Press, there were multiple relatives, including an adult, in the home when the Franklin, MA suffocation accident happened. The chest was located next to a TV that had its volume turned up.

It is not known at this time whether the chest that the children got stuck in was part of any of the recalls, but it is one that cannot be opened from the inside. Lane Furniture announced one recall in 1996 that involved 12 million chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987. The chests automatically locked when closed, and at least six kids reportedly suffocated. In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission told Lane to pay $900,000 for not reporting the entrapment issue in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, chests that are large enough for young children and toddlers to enter can prove dangerous if they aren’t equipped with mechanisms that prevent them from automatically locking once the lid is closed. There should also be a way for a very young child to easily unlock the chest from the inside.

Entrapment can lead to suffocation, which can cause fatalities. For kids who are lucky enough to survive such an incident, they may be left with serious brain injuries and permanent disabilities, as well as emotional trauma.

If you think that your child died in an entrapment or suffocation accident because of a dangerous or defective accident, please contact our Boston products liability law firm today. We handle Massachusetts wrongful death and personal injury cases.

2 Mass. Children Die After Getting Stuck in Chest, ABC News, January 13, 2014

DA: Company recalling hope chest involved in Franklin, Mass. tragedy, NECN.com, January 13, 2014

Preventing Strangulation and Entrapment, Kids’ Health

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