parents

What happened to her son is every parent's worst nightmare.

Bern and her two sons
Bern and her two sons

By BERN MORLEY

I had a feeling that day, the day of the accident.

It was hard to pinpoint the feeling though, something just felt “off”. I really should have trusted my instincts…

As parents, we are forever on a silent, clinical guard, fighting and trying to protect our children from the obvious and visible dangers they will be subjected to.

We sweep the local park for needles, make them wear a helmet when they ride their bikes, carefully help them across the monkey bars (largest cause of broken arms FYI) remove the spider from the corner of the room, make sure they wear a life jacket when on a boat, childproof the poisons cupboard, all the stuff that you do because you are a responsible parent right? Right?

But what about all those dangers we can’t even imagine, situations we couldn’t prevent unless we perpetually lived in a state of worst case scenario. What about something so miniscule that changes your life forever, that you never in a million Sundays, saw coming.

Baggage carousel.
A freak and unfortunate series of events.
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That’s exactly what happened to Nathania Terry.

After a freak and unfortunate series of events led to her five month old baby being crushed to death on a baggage carousel.

“Fresh details have emerged from a horrifying incident at Spain’s Alicante Airport, where a five-month-old baby was crushed to death in a baggage carousel. “The family is going through a difficult situation right now,” he said.

According to police, Mrs Terry climbed onto the baggage carousel to retrieve a baby stroller while holding her son.

Mrs Terry accidentally caused the belt to start, and she lost her grip on the baby, who fell onto the moving carousel.

Airport staff said the accident happened in seconds. Mrs Terry had no time to react, and could only scream in horror as her baby was killed. Medical staff could not revive the child, and he was declared dead at the scene.”

This is absolutely tragic, a situation so terrible I hope Mrs Terry is able to forgive herself. I can only imagine how fractured she is right now.  I also hope that she is not being judged by those who believe she did something wrong. It was an accident.

My own story didn’t end as tragically as this but it certainly had the potential to. And it made me understand how easy these things can happen, seemingly from nowhere.

See, I couldn’t imagine that a day out with my husband on a boat would almost kill my son. Because it wasn’t a near drowning, it wasn’t a freak motor explosion, it wasn’t even an unexpected shark attack. It involved nothing more than a dropped hat and some bitumen. An accident that damaged my 3 year old son so badly I didn’t know if I’d get to ever speak to him again.

My husband had decided to give me a break away from it all, just for a day. So from something so thoughtful, something unimaginable happened. When he suggested that he take our three children on his brother’s boat with their 3 children, I was uneasy. 2 dads, 6 very active children, it didn’t feel right. Mainly I was worried that Jack, being only 3, would silently slip off the boat unseen and drown. Phil was adamant they’d be fine ‘they’ll be wearing a lifejackets’.

Nathania Terry, the mother who lost her child on a baggage carousel
Nathania Terry, the mother who lost her child on a baggage carousel
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Walking back to the car from the boat at the end of what turned out to be, by all accounts a very enjoyable day, it happened.  Jack was on his dad’s shoulders, the place he always wanted to be. Sam our other son was walking beside his father, dutifully holding his hand.

Our daughter only a metre of so in front. The wind picked up and blew Sam’s hat and as is second nature, Phil immediately bent down to grab it before Sam chased it onto the road.

When he got back up to his full height of 6ft, he could only watch as Jack tumbled from his shoulders, in slow motion, hitting the asphalt with a sickening thump. He landed directly on his head.

He didn’t make a sound. Phil was sure he was dead in those harrowing few seconds. When he recounts the story to me, he tells me it was the contrast between Sam’s wails and Jack’s absolute silence that were the most frightening.

After what felt like an eternity, Jack started to cry, who knew it could be such a welcoming sound? The ambulance ride was a blur, he wasn’t responding well.

After hours of scans and tests, of me receiving the phone call to ‘come to the hospital – now’ he started to respond. Two snapped wrists and severe facial damage but no long lasting neurological affects.

Today you wouldn’t know by looking at him. His father on the other hand, has never forgiven himself even though we’ve discussed numerous times it could never have been predicted.

These kind of freak accidents happen every day. I remember in the early 80s, one of my mother’s friends lost their daughter to electrocution. It happened in their holiday caravan. Somehow water had flooded into the van whilst they’d been playing down on the beach and an exposed wire made the whole floor live with electricity. Their 7 year old daughter was the first one to barrel back into the caravan that day and due to the random game of fate roulette, she was the one that died in front of their very eyes.

My brother was hit by a car when I was 8. We were walking along a road, to buy an iron. It’s funny what you remember. Mum, spying a puddle of water up further along, told us to get across the road before a car came along and splashed us. My brother, 3 years older, did the first thing that came to him which was to run across the road.

Mum meant for us to hurry on ahead. She forever blamed herself for that, that she hadn’t measured her words correctly. Les was hit by a Sandman Panel Van and propelled 25 metres up the road. On his face. I, on instinct, ran out after him and nearly got hit too.

In those few seconds, Mum almost lost the two of us. Her confidence in her ability to protect took a hit after that and she turned into someone who was forever on high alert and overprotective.

Tragic accidents happen every day. It’s the unfairness and the unpredictability that messes with you as a parent. You are forever trying to stay ahead of the risks but often it’s just not possible to see the dangers before they are there.

Can you relate? Or do you think that sometimes parents just aren’t thinking responsibly? Can we judge others when not one of us is perfect? Can anyone judge a parent harsher than they would judge themselves in this situation anyway?

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