For Danielle and Jason Duggan, the high tech baby monitor was supposed to bring safety and peace of mind.
As the New York Post reports, the couple from Shipdham, England had installed a $200 Motorola baby monitor with camera in the room where their toddler daughter, Jessica, slept. The sophisticated system was connected to a phone app and placed on a shelf above her crib. The cord was secured against the wall and tucked behind the shelf.
In short, they believed they had done everything right.
On October 25 last year, they put 18-month-old Jessica in her crib for an afternoon nap. When her father woke at about 4:30 that afternoon, he checked his phone app to see his daughter. That’s when he noticed that the camera angle had changed. The camera had been moved.
Jason and Danielle went into Jessica’s room to discover that their daughter had somehow become entangled in the cord for the baby monitor. The wire was wrapped around the toddler’s neck, and she had stopped breathing.
At the inquest, Danielle recalled how they immediately called for help:
“I removed the cord from her neck and put her on her changing table. My husband started CPR on her and we called the ambulance and the operator was counting for him while he was giving CPR.”
They continued CPR until paramedics arrived to take Jessica to the hospital. Unfortunately, it was too late.
Danielle told the Post that they don’t know how Jessica managed to free the cord and get tangled in it:
“The wire was always out of reach — it was a corner shelf above her cot and the camera was at the back of the shelf, and the wire was tucked behind the shelf and tacked all the way down the wall and it was plugged into an extension lead underneath her cot.”
“The wire was fleshed to the wall — we didn’t just leave her in a room with lots of wires hanging around,” she added. “When the police came round to look at the room, they had to remove four screws to get the wire out from behind the shelf — that’s how tight it was.”
Jessica had been sleeping in the crib several times a day for more than a year with no issues. Investigators believe she must have been able to get hold of the extension cord and created enough slack to loosen the wires and get stuck in them. Then, when the toddler dropped the extension cord, the weight of it cut off her air supply.
Danielle said the accident alarmed one police officer so much that he changed his own monitor set-up at home:
“One of the police officers that attended Jessica he had a little girl too. He had a similar set up to ours with the baby monitor and he said he went home and just stripped everything and took everything out. It really affected him.”
The grieving parents are now urging others to be very careful when it comes to having cords around children. Danielle told the Daily Mail:
“I would urge that parents are really careful when setting up their monitors. A few years ago people were worried about blinds near cots, but we never had that.”
Danielle says that they would get a wireless monitor if they had another child and reminded parents that it’s not just baby monitor cords that pose a danger, but all kinds of electric wires.
“Just think outside the box when it comes to your toddler’s safety,” Jason said. “They will get in to anything. Even things you wouldn’t think of, as we know with Jessica. We’re urging parents just to box up everything you can.”
The family has created a GoFundMe in Jessica’s honor to help the air ambulance service that came to their daughter’s aid.
Danielle is still reeling from the grief of losing her only child. And they still don’t fully understand how Jessica was able to reach the monitor cord.
“She shouldn’t have been able to get it but people might not know to check,” Jessica told the Eastern Daily Press. “We bought it to keep her safe.”