Anguish over ‘needless' bath death

Kristy Pace looks at a photo of her son Lachlan, who drowned in his bath in 2008 during an epileptic fit.
Kristy Pace looks at a photo of her son Lachlan, who drowned in his bath in 2008 during an epileptic fit. Adam Hourigan

THE mother of a six-year-old boy who drowned in a bath during an epileptic fit in 2008 is angry her son died needlessly.

Mother of five Kristy Pace was only metres away from her son, Lachlan Charles Cumbo, and talking to him when he drowned at their Grafton home on September 20, 2008.

Ms Pace said her boy had only gone quiet for a short time when she thought something was wrong. She rushed into the bathroom to find him on his side with his face in the water. Despite her efforts and the efforts of paramedics and doctors, the boy was pronounced dead at Grafton Base Hospital at 8.15pm.

The coroner heard evidence of what led up to that fateful day during a hearing that ran from October 17-19 and included evidence from family, police, medical experts and community services workers.

Now, more than a month after deputy state coroner Scott Mitchell delivered his findings, Ms Pace is dealing with feelings of anger that her son need not have died.

"I found out all the stuff I could have done with all his seizures," Ms Pace said.

"He could have been on medication if the hospitals had tested him for epilepsy. But none of the seven hospitals he went to tested him for epilepsy."

At each hospital doctors assured the boy's parents that his problem was febrile convulsions and he would grow out of them.

They ignored a family history of the problem that included the boy's father, Sandy, and older sister, Monique, who had a history of having fits.

Rather than dwelling on her anger, Ms Pace is delighted with the coroner's direction that his report into Lachlan's death be sent to relevant department heads and government ministers, as well as bodies such as the Royal Life Saving Society and the Epilepsy Council of Australia, to raise awareness of the risks of drowning for children with epilepsy.

"What happened to Lachlan shouldn't happen to anyone," Ms Pace said.

Topics:  coroner drowning epilepsy

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