Little Levi's death an accident, inquest finds
A CORONER ruled the death of a two-year-old boy, who fell out of the back passenger door of his grandmother's car, was an accident.
Levi Brailsford, two, who lived in Byfield Road, Stockwood, was being driven home by his maternal grandmother Kathleen Medway when the accident happened on May 11.
An inquest, held at Flax Bourton Coroner's Court yesterday, heard that only one of the back passenger doors was fitted with a child lock.
Police investigator PC Mark Stedman told coroner Maria Voisin that he believed Levi had managed to get free of his car seat and had pulled the handle of the opposite side back door, which had swung open.
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He said Levi was either pulled out of the car by the door, or had fallen out, sustaining fatal head injuries.
In giving her verdict Ms Voisin said that had child locks been fitted to both doors, "it would have been unlikely this tragedy would have happened".
The inquest heard that on the day of his death, Levi's mother Andrea, 29, was walking along Hollway Road in Stockwood on her way to pick up her older child, Cavan, five, from school.
She had Levi with her, as well as her baby daughter Pearl Anne.
In a statement, she said that Levi had been riding a scooter but became tired and was then walking ahead.
She said he had been walking on a wall and had then tried to get under a fence. It was then she saw her mother's car pull up just in front of her.
"I opened the front passenger door and Levi dived in, jumping over the centre console into his child seat," she said.
Mrs Brailsford explained her mother offered to take Levi home "as she was struggling" and began to fit the harness on Levi's car seat by leaning over from the front driver's seat, before Mrs Brailsford shut the door.
In her statement, Mrs Brailsford said she did not see her mother finish clipping Levi into his seat.
The inquest heard from Mrs Medway, who said Levi had only been in the car for around three to four minutes when she heard the door handle behind her click.
"As I was turning onto the mini roundabout I head the door go," she said. "I bumped the car up on to the pavement, thinking if I did that the door would shut. As I pulled on to the pavement, in the wing mirror I saw the door fly open.
"I got out of the car and pushed the door slightly to close it and was going to say to Levi that he shouldn't have opened it.
"But that's when I saw him in the road and screamed."
The inquest heard another driver had seen Levi fall head first from the car and roll over before coming to a stop in the middle of the road.
A post-mortem examination found that he had suffered significant trauma to his head and abdomen, with the main cause of death being given as head injury.
After a question was raised by an uncle of Kevin Brailsford, Levi's father, Ms Voisin asked PC Stedman if he thought it was possible that Ms Medway could have fastened Levi into his car seat by turning from the driver's seat. He said he believed this would have been possible.
Ms Medway said she did finish fastening the child seat before driving off.
She also said Levi had managed to get free of his child seat previously.
She said no child lock was fitted to one of the back doors because an adult would usually sit in that seat next to Levi.
After the inquest Levi's parents said they were not surprised by the verdict and had nothing more to add.
Levi's paternal grandmother, Christine Brailsford, said she was still campaigning for child locks to be made compulsory.
She has launched a petition, called Levi's law, and is trying to get support from the Government.
"If the child lock was on we wouldn't be in this situation now," she said.
"I want child locks to be made compulsory, like seat belts, and want to make people aware of how important they are – it was horrendous to lose a life like we have, it was tragic.
"Levi was one in a million. He was only two years and two months old, but he left us a life time of memories. He was lively and naughty but so loveable."
For more information, see the webs address http://epetitions.direct.gov. uk/petitions/34922.