Warning for parents after bath time tragedy

Joanne Pedlow with Lily and Alex.
Joanne Pedlow with Lily and Alex. Photo: Supplied

A coroner has warned about the dangers of leaving children unattended in bath seats after the drowning death of a little boy.

Eight-month-old Alex McCartney died while in the bath with his two-year-old sister Lily at the family's home in Northern Ireland in January last year.

An inquest into the infant's death heard his mother Joanne Pedlow had placed her son in his bath seat and filled the water up to his belly button before going downstairs.

Baby Alex McCartney, who died at 7 months.
Baby Alex McCartney, who died at 7 months.  Photo: Supplied

The mum of three said the seat was attached to the bottom of the bath with "three or four" suction cups when she left the room.

"I popped down the stairs to put the kettle on to wash the floor when my brother Richard and his partner Nicky came in," Ms Pedlow told the inquest, according to a report in the Belfast Telegraph.

"We chatted for about a minute when we heard Lily crying and the three of us went up the stairs.

"Nicky went into the room first, then Richard, but I didn't go in, and I heard Nicky squealing."

Nicola (Nicky) Barr told the inquest at first she could only see Lily in the water when she went into the bathroom.

"We heard Lily screaming and we went up to see her, and I went in first," she said.


"I looked in and saw Lily sitting in the bath.

"For a second I didn't see Alex, but then I saw his bum sticking out of the bubbles.

"I put my hands under him and tipped him over. His face was grey and lips were blue. I then lifted him out and saw the seat floating on its side.

"We took him out to the landing and started CPR.

"I took Lily down the stairs as she was squealing as she could see everything.

"We called his father Stephen and he arrived home at the same time as the paramedics."

Paramedics, who said Alex was "pale and cold to touch" when they arrived were unable to find the boy's pulse when they arrived at the home.

They attempted clear the boy's airway but Alex did not respond and was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital.

The inquest was told Alex suffered a catastrophic brain injury after being submerged in bathwater.

He did not regain consciousness and died in his mother's arms four days later after doctors removed his life support.

Ms Pedlow told the inquest she believed her son went face down in the water after his bath seat fell over.

"He was quite a big child and was quite heavy, I think he had leaned forward and toppled it (the seat) over," she said.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson said Alex's death had been a tragedy for his family and expressed her "heartfelt sympathy" to his parents.

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

"Hopefully this message will serve to spare the agony this family has had to endure."