A mother of four-year-old twins issued a warning to other parents after her children suffocated to death inside a toy chest.
The twins, along with their two other siblings, were taken to bed by their father, Don Starr, in their Jacksonville home on 25 August. However, the toddlers later decided to sleep in a cedar box that they used to store their stuffed animals.
The twins ran out of oxygen and were discovered by their elder brother on Saturday morning with their arms wrapped around each other.
Sadie Myers, the mother of the children, shared the heartbreaking incident in a tribute to her twins on Facebook, while issuing a warning to parents that toy chests become “airtight” and “soundproof” when closed.
“Not many will know the pain of losing two children at the same time, and losing them in a way that makes no sense,” she wrote on Monday.
Ms Myers assumed that during their sleep one of the twins must have moved or kicked, causing the lid of the wooden chest to shut.
“Something I did not know and I’m sure many others don’t know is that most wooden toy chests once closed are AIR TIGHT and also soundproof.
“So as they slept, all snuggled up together, they slowly ran out of oxygen within a couple of hours and passed away,” she added.
Ms Myers urged parents who have toy chests to “destroy it immediately” to protect their children.
Following the incident, police and paramedics responded to the house around noon on Saturday in response to a medical emergency involving two children, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
When the deputies arrived they found the two children “unresponsive”, Lt Adam Blinnat said.
“Life-saving efforts were performed, but sadly both children were pronounced deceased,” he was quoted by First Coast News as saying.
Ms Myers told the broadcaster that she tied the wooden chest shut “because it just had some stuffed animals in it” but the children “begged” her to open it so they could play with the stuffed animals inside.
“I still made sure to have something tied on the latch so that the kids couldn’t lock each other in and so it wouldn’t latch shut if closed, unfortunately, that didn’t prevent it from being airtight if closed,” she added.
Kids in Danger, a non-profit organisation, revealed that at least 34 children have died in incidents involving toy chests since 2014.
Over 21,500 toy chests have been recalled since 2005 due to hazards including strangulation, entrapment, injury, and lead poisoning, Daily Mail reported.
Meanwhile, a fundraising page set up on GoFundMe by Myers’s has raised over $26,000 so far.