United Kingdom

Toddler drowned in hot tub after mother left back door open on hot day, inquest hears

A toddler drowned in a hot tub after crawling outside when his mother left the back door open as she worked from home while caring for her twins, an inquest heard today.  

Eddie Murphy-Boxall, 18 months, was found unresponsive in the water by his heartbroken mother Siobhan Murphy, who had opened the door to let in some cool air at their home in Worthing, West Sussex on June 24.  

He was rushed to Worthing General Hospital by air ambulance, where he was declared dead at 1.30pm despite desperate efforts to revive him.  

A coroner today said a combination of the hot tub lid being open and the difficulties of caring for children while working from home had led to the 'truly heartbreaking situation.'  

Dr Karen Henderson, the assistant coroner for West Sussex, concluded the case was an accident while sitting at Crawley Coroner's Court, adding: 'It is by far, every parent's worst nightmare.' 

Eddie Murphy-Boxall (right with his twin brother Hugo) was found unresponsive in the water by his heartbroken mother Siobhan Murphy, who had left the door open to let in some cool air at their home in Worthing, West Sussex on June 24

Little Eddie was born shortly before Christmas in 2018 and lived in Worthing with his father Simon Boxall, Ms Murphy and his twin brother Hugo, the inquest heard.

Mel Doyle, the coroner's officer for Crawley, said: 'When the the national lockdown was enforced due to Covid in March, Siobhan started working from home. 

'Simon returned to work on May 4, leaving Siobhan home-working and looking after the boys alone.'  

Mrs Murphy had often worked at night, after her children had gone to bed, to fit in her work and child-caring responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, the inquest heard.

The day of the tragedy was 'extremely hot' and the mother had two hours of conference calls to attend, it was said.

She was due to take the calls downstairs, with the back door left open to circulate air and the boys in the downstairs bedroom, the coroner was told.    

Ms Doyle said: 'When Siobhan finished her work meeting, she called the boys... Eddie did not come out of the bedroom. Siobhan realised the backdoor was open and Eddie must have crawled outside.

'She saw the lid of the hot tub was open. She went to the hot tub and found Eddie in the water, unresponsive.'

He was rushed to Worthing General Hospital by air ambulance (pictured), where he was declared dead just after lunchtime despite desperate efforts to revive him

Following a post mortem examination, Eddie's cause of death was given as 'immersion in water (drowning)' and a police investigation was launched into his death. Pictured: Stock image

A member of the public came to assist Mrs Murphy who called 999 at 12.25pm, leading to a helicopter air ambulance to be scrambled to the family home.

Eddie was rushed to Worthing General Hospital by air ambulance, where he was declared dead just after lunchtime despite desperate efforts to revive him.

Following a post mortem examination, Eddie's cause of death was given as 'immersion in water (drowning)' and a police investigation was launched into his death.

Dr Henderson confirmed the results of the major crime investigation found no evidence of any suspicious circumstances surrounding the child's death.

She said the report found 'there were no concerns of negligence or any risks in terms of the state of the house or the facilities, everything pointed to a loving family that had been left heartbroken and bereft by their loss.'

Concluding the inquest, Dr Henderson said on the balance of probabilities she was satisfied that Eddie's death was a 'tragic accident' and there were no learning opportunities.

The coroner added: 'It is quite clearly a truly heartbreaking situation that Eddie, with his brother, was the most wanted child who had throughout his short life been beautifully cared for and was the most treasured possession. He was all things for their parents.

'It is by far every parents worst nightmare but it was through a combination of circumstances that sadly led to Eddie's death - that the hot tub lid was not closed as was thought, that they were working from home during Covid and the difficulties of combining that with childcare and indeed it was a very hot day - that this allowed, sadly, Eddie to slip out and to climb into the hot tub.

'I cannot for a minute imagine how difficult this has been for Eddie's parents and for other family and I am so sorry.'

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