FRANKLIN (CBS) – Two young children died after they were found not breathing in a hope chest in their home in Franklin, in what investigators say appears to be a tragic accident.
Emergency crews were called to a house on Chestnut Street Sunday night and found a sister and brother, not breathing and unresponsive.
The children have been identified as 8-year-old Lexi and 7-year-old Sean Munroe.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports
“Investigation to this point indicates that the children were found by family members shortly before 8 p.m. enclosed together in a hope chest fashioned with a lid that could only be released from the outside, and not opened from within,” David Traub, the spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney, said in a statement.
Traub said Monday the chest was a Lane Hope Chest and was located in a bedroom. The chest was reportedly purchased used and had been in the family’s possession for more than a decade.
Traub said the DA’s office is currently looking at the exact vintage of the chest.
In 1996, The Lane Company announced a voluntary program to replace the locks on cedar chests manufactured prior to 1987. According to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, the Lane Company manufactured approximately 12 million cedar chests from 1912 to 1987 that latch automatically when the lid is closed.
At the time, the CPSC warned that young children playing in the chest could become trapped inside and suffocate.
Traub tells WBZ-TV, investigators are looking into whether the chest was part of the 1996 recall.
The Lock company continues to offer replacement locks for the recalled chest on its website.
“Several family members were home at the time of the incident; the hope chest was in relatively close proximity to a television that was apparently on with a substantial volume at the time,” Traub said.
“Family members called 911 when the children were discovered. Franklin Fire transported them to area hospitals (in Norwood and Milford) but they did not survive.”
Franklin Public Schools confirmed Monday, the two children were students in one of the town’s elementary schools. Councilors have been made available at the schools.
“Our deepest thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to the family and all members of the Franklin school community who are affected by this terrible news,” Superintendent Maureen Sabolinksi said in a statement.
“I can’t believe it, I just want to wake up and have it all be over,” said Chris Munroe, an uncle of the children. “It all seems like a bad dream.” Munroe says he used to take Lexi and Sean fishing. “They were the best fishing buddies,” he said. Munroe said what happened at his brother’s home Sunday night was a terrible accident and in no way, he stressed, neglect.
The medical examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy to find the cause and manner of death.
Traub said the the family is cooperating in the investigation.