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Boy, 5, died after putting his head into balloon while 'pretending to be a dinosaur'

Jess Hardiman

Published 
| Last updated 

Boy, 5, died after putting his head into balloon while 'pretending to be a dinosaur'

Featured Image Credit: NCJ Media

A five-year-old boy sadly died after putting his head into a balloon while ‘pretending to be a dinosaur’, with new calls for officials to do more to raise awareness of the risks.

An inquest earlier this year heard how little Karlton Noah Donaghey, from Dunston in Tyne and Wear, died in a ‘tragic accident' on 29 June 2022, having suffocated after putting his head inside a helium balloon.

He had been playing in his garden on a sunny evening last summer, but was found unconscious in the living room 10 minutes after heading inside.

He received emergency care from a neighbour, who was a nurse, along with medics from North East Ambulance Service and the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

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However, despite them managing to keep the youngster alive, he had suffered a hypoxic brain injury and sadly died six days later.

Karlton Noah Donaghey died in a ‘tragic accident on 29 June 2022. Credit: NCJ Media
Karlton Noah Donaghey died in a ‘tragic accident on 29 June 2022. Credit: NCJ Media

"I just want everyone to understand that Karlton was an incredibly precious boy,” mum Lisa said.

“For me and Karl he was our only child and he was precious to everyone he met. This tragic accident took him away from everyone who loved him."

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She said she believed her son was trying to climb inside the large dinosaur-shaped balloon to wear it as a costume to surprise his family.

Lisa added: "As his mum and dad we will carry him with us forever."

At the conclusion of the inquest, held in September, Assistant Coroner James Thompson said the death was ‘every parent's nightmare’, vowing to write to the public health department at Newcastle City Council asking them to consider what can be done to raise awareness of the risk posed by helium balloons.

He has now followed through in the promise, having written to the government demanding action to prevent deaths in similar cases.

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Thompson raised his concerns about a lack of restrictions with purchasing helium balloons, ‘particularly at locations of places of entertainment for children’.

He also flagged the lack of awareness people have of the dangers they pose, especially as there is often a lack of warning on the products themselves.

Assistant Coroner James Thompson said the death was ‘every parent's nightmare’. Credit: NCJ Media
Assistant Coroner James Thompson said the death was ‘every parent's nightmare’. Credit: NCJ Media

Addressing the Office for Product Safety and Standards at the Department for Business and Trade, Thompson said: “During the course of the inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern.

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“In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken. In the circumstances it is my statutory duty to report to you.

“The matters of concern are as follows: the balloon which caused the death are freely available to purchase without restriction, particularly at locations of places of entertainment for children.”

Thompson said the ministry has until 18 December to respond to his report.

He added: “Parents and those responsible for supervision of children are not fully aware of the risks posed to young children of helium filled balloons.

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“The balloon in question displayed no warning as to the potential risk to young children.

“In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe your organisation has the power to take such action.”

Topics: UK News

Jess Hardiman
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