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Coroner warns of dangers of kids unsupervised in water

Baby Alex McCarthy died four days after he is believed to have fallen from his bath seat into water at his Lurgan home

A CORONER has warned of the dangers of leaving children unattended in the bath following the tragic death of a eight-month-old baby boy.

Alex McCartney is believed to have fallen out of a bath seat and became submerged in the water at his home in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

An inquest in Belfast yesterday into his death heard how the little boy's mother had left him and his two-year-old sister Lily in the bath for "no more than a minute, minute and a half" when the tragedy happened in January 2015.

Joanne Pedlow broke down in tears as she told the court of how she had only "popped down the stairs to put the kettle on as I was going to wash the floor" when her son fell into the bath water.

The court heard he was found face down in the water "grey in colour and his lips (were) blue".

It is believed he may have fallen out of the bath seat, which had been attached to the bath with suction cups, and was in just four to five inches of water.

The bath seat was found "floating on its side" in the water.

Ms Pedlow said she had been in the kitchen putting the kettle on when her brother Richard Pedlow and his partner Nicky Barr arrived at the house.

Ms Barr described how they had only arrived when they heard Lily cry.

"I went up first and I could see Lily sitting at the far end of the bath. I could see Alex's bum sticking up out of the bubbles," she said.

"I put my two hands in and lifted him out. He was grey in colour and his lips were blue.

"I could see the blue bath seat floating on its side in the bath. He wasn't in the seat any more."

Ms Pedlow said she had used the bath seat on numerous occasions before and the water level was only "half way up to the seat, probably up to his belly button".

She added: "He was quite a big child, he was heavy, I think he could have leaned forward and toppled over".

The court heard Mr Pedlow performed CPR on Alex along with a neighbour who arrived at the scene until paramedics arrived.

Alex was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital before being transferred to the Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram told the inquest Alex had suffered "irreversible, widespread brain damage" and died four days after the tragic accident.

He had never regained consciousness.

Dr Ingram said his death was caused by cerebral hypoxia, which happens when the nose and mouth are in water and he had "developed pneumonia of the lungs, which ultimately led to his death".

Following his death, Alex's family agreed to donate his organs to help other babies.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson said the little boy's death highlighted the importance of staying with children when they are near water.

"This has highlighted an important learning issue for parents of the dangers posed when a child is left unsupervised, even for a short period of time and in the shallowest of water," she said.

"Hopefully this message will serve to spare the agony to another family of what this family have had to endure."

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