Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Monday, 29 December 2008

Girl dies in 'tragic TV accident'

Emily Hughes
Emily May Hughes was the youngest of four children

A four-year-old girl died after her father accidentally dropped a television on her head as he carried it downstairs, an inquest heard.

Emily May Hughes died on Christmas Day after suffering "a catastrophic brain injury" in what the coroner called a "tragic accident" the day before.

An accidental death verdict was recorded at the inquest in Liverpool.

Her parents Robert and Louise Hughes, of Coedpoeth, Wrexham, paid tribute to their "bright, clever girl".

Coroner Andre Rebello described the accident as "every parent's worst nightmare".

The inquest was told the family had bought a new TV on Christmas Eve - a day in which they went shopping and visited friends.

Mr Hughes, a design engineer, installed it in the first-floor living room then carried the old "heavy, deep, bulky" widescreen television downstairs into the children's play area.

Emily, who was the youngest of four children, liked to take the Nintendo DS she shared with her siblings to a quiet place to play it alone.

But unbeknown to Mr Hughes as he struggled downstairs, she was lying on her stomach at the foot of the stairs.

In a report by North Wales Police, officers told the inquest Mr Hughes accidentally bumped into her, dropping the television and pinning her head down.

It is every parent's worst nightmare for their child's funeral to take place before their own
Andre Rebello, coroner

It said: "Mr Hughes stubbed his foot on the child and fell forward with the large TV set.

"He completely lost balance, fell and tried to push the TV away from the child realising she was there but it landed on her head, pinning her. He immediately got it off her."

Mr Hughes carried Emily into the kitchen where his wife Louise called an ambulance.

The couple tried to resuscitate the youngster until paramedics arrived at 1820 GMT.

Emily was rushed to Wrexham Maelor Hospital and transferred to Liverpool's Alder Hey Hospital later that evening suffering from a lack of blood and oxygen to the brain.

Consultant Dr Jane Ratcliffe said Emily sustained a head fracture in the accident, and the brain damage stopped her pulse and blood pressure.

Local councillor Gareth Griffiths has known the family all his life and said villagers were in shock

She was certified dead at 2210 GMT in intensive care the following day, Christmas Day.

Coroner Andre Rebello recorded a verdict of accidental death at the inquest.

Mr Rebello said: "This was a tragic accident and this will always be a difficult time in the future with every Christmas.

"It is every parent's worst nightmare for their child's funeral to take place before their own.

"I hope the family can recover from this tragedy and celebrate the joy of Emily's life.

"Emily will not have suffered and not have known about this injury. I pass on my sincere condolences to the family."

Her parents in a tribute said Emily was a "talented singer" who sang solos at her recent school Christmas concert.

Emily was a bright, clever girl, well liked by everybody, caring and kind
Louise and Robert Hughes

The little girl was part of a large family who are well known in Coedpoeth, where her mother has worked as a youth worker for 10 years.

She went to Penygelli School and to the Salvation Army Sunday School in Coedpoeth, which family members have attended for years.

Mr and Mrs Hughes described their daughter's death as a "tragic accident" and thanked the medical staff who tried to save her, along with people from all over the world who have supported the family.

"Emily was a bright, clever girl, well liked by everybody, caring and kind," the couple said in a statement.

"She had a real talent for singing, and had done solos in the school concert just before Christmas.

"We will miss her, and will never forget her."

They added that a funeral date has yet to be set and that it will be a celebration of Emily's life.


Mr and Mrs Hughes said: "The staff were very professional and did everything they could to help.

"We'd like to say particular thanks to Dr Jane Ratcliffe and her team at Alder Hey."

A spokeswoman for North Wales Police said: "As a result of a very sad and tragic accident on Christmas Eve, reported to police at 6.20pm, a four-year-old girl from the Coedpoeth area of Wrexham passed away at Alder Hey Children's Hospital on Christmas Day.

"The family are understandably very distraught by this tragic accident and police are making a plea for the privacy of the family to be respected at this incredibly difficult time."

Neighbours in the street have also paid tribute to Emily.

Many knew the family well, and were too shocked to say anything.

However, one said: "She was just a bubbly little, cute little four-year-old girl really.

"I've met them a couple of times and obviously I've seen the kids and stuff. It's absolutely terrible... it's shocking."

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