Coroner makes ruling on toddler who died in washing machine tragedy

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Feb 02, 2023 |

The death of a Christchurch toddler who died in a washing machine incident has been ruled a tragic accident.

The 3-year-old girl died in Christchurch Hospital in February 2021, a day after her mother found her in the washing machine, with the door closed and a cycle running.

Forensic pathologist Dr Sage conducted a post-mortem examination.

He concluded that the cause of death was global cerebral hypoxic injury, secondary to enclosed space asphyxia.

There was no evidence to suggest that the toddler was deliberately placed into the machine by another person.

Police conducted an investigation and were satisfied there were no suspicious circumstances.

Coroner Ho released his findings to Chris Lynch Media on Friday. Strong suppression orders were put in place to protect the girl’s family.

Coroner Alexander Ho​ ruled the girl climbed into the front loader machine by herself.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I record that there was no evidence of any involvement of any adult or any other person in (the girl’s) death,” he said.

Ho said they were a happy family and there had never been any substantive concerns reported about the family or the children’s welfare. 

In the report, the girl was described as a happy-go-lucky, shy child who loved her parents.

She kept to herself and enjoyed playing with her toys and liked to climb and jump on the trampoline

She attended kindergarten and a neighbour described the family as happy and polite. 

There were no suspicious circumstances or evidence of criminal wrongdoing. 

In the events leading up to the little girl’s death, the girl had been playing with other children, and the adults in the house were preparing to leave.

They started to look for the girl and called her name and looked around the house for her.

When a parent checked the wash house, she noticed that a light on the washing machine was flashing.

She thought this was odd as she had not done any washing.

The washing machine was about half full of still and murky water.

The mother saw something inside the water and, upon looking closer, realised it was her daughter.

Another adult arrived and was able to force the door open. He pulled the girl out but she was floppy and her face was purple.

Paramedics and firefighters attended and took over resuscitation efforts.

She was taken to Christchurch Hospital and a period of resuscitation and stabilisation, the girl underwent a CT scan before being taken to the Intensive Care Unit.

Staff continued to try to stabilise and optimise her breathing and circulation, however, a CT scan showed significant brain injury.

Doctors met with her whānau and explained that she had sustained a severe brain injury.

They advised the most likely outcome was that she would not survive.

Her whānau were with her when she died on 20 February 2021. 

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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