A Kamloops mother is issuing a warning to parents after her one-year-old son died in an accident at home earlier this month.
Sean Garratt, who would have turned two in November, died after a TV fell on him on Sept. 8 while he climbed a dresser, according to his mother, C.J. Cantin.
The unconscious toddler was airlifted to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver following the accident and was taken off life support on Sept. 10.
“I think more people need to be open to what can happen in the blink of an eye,” Cantin told KTW.
“More people need to be aware of the dangers in their home.”
Cantin, a 24-year-old single mother, described every parent’s worst nightmare. She said it happened at about 6:30 a.m. in her Lower Sahali apartment.
“I woke up to a loud thud and my daughter screaming for me — ‘Mommy, mommy, Sean fell down,’” Cantin said.
“I rushed into the room and the TV was on his head. I removed the TV and called 911.”
Cantin said her son was still conscious at that point.
“He was still crying,” she said. “His eyes were open and he was having seizures. He was crying for me. I still can’t get his little cry out of my head.”
According to Cantin, Sean stopped crying in the ambulance on the way to Royal Inland Hospital.
“I feel like his soul left his body in that ambulance,” she said. “I have to think that because I can’t imagine the pain he went through. I re-live that moment again and again.”
Cantin said her three-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, later offered her more information about what happened.
“She said, ‘Sean climbed,’” Cantin said.
“What I can imagine is he was climbing up the dresser and maybe it tipped and the TV fell on him.
“It confuses me because I weight-tested it.”
Cantin described the television as “an old-style, bulky TV,” with a screen of about 32 inches, not a sleek flat-screen television. It sat atop a dresser in the bedroom shared by Sean and his sister.
Cantin said the TV was very heavy — too heavy, she thought, to be moved by a toddler.
“I grew up with these,” she said. “My mom had one on her dresser. We were always around them and we didn’t go near them.”
Cantin said she is now packing up and moving to a new apartment, unable to remain in the home where the accident occurred.
Her employer, McDonald’s, has allowed her to take leave to deal with the situation and her daughter is staying with a relative until the move is complete.
“It’s been a rough week,” Cantin said.
“I’ve been trying not to let the depression take over or the anger take over because I’m trying to be strong for her.
“I just hope my story will touch someone else and maybe they will make a change and I can save another family from heartbreak.”
Cantin said she is also remembering her son.
“He was my little boy,” she said.
“He loved to play. He climbed on everything and jumped on everything. He was my little daredevil.
“Every morning, he climbed on me and gave me snuggles and gave me kisses and I’m never going to have that again. And I feel like I let him down. I failed him as a mother.
“My job is to protect him and I didn’t do it.”
Cantin’s family has stepped forward to provide support. Cousin Lisa Gilroy told KTW the accident has shocked relatives.
“It’s devastating,” she said. “It’s like it’s not real. How did this happen? Oh my God. This could have been my baby. It could have happened to anyone’s baby. It’s not real.”
Gilroy described Sean as a delightful child.
“Sean, he’s very playful, very happy — always happy,” she said.
“The reason this happened is because he’s climbing up on stuff. He’s doing what babies do, exploring his world and definitely exploring his boundaries, testing his boundaries, which is how it happened.”
Gilroy started a GoFundMe account for Cantin in the days following Sean’s death. It can be found here.
She said the idea came to her as she thought of a way to support her cousin in her time of grief.
“I’m sitting here thinking, ‘I feel so helpless — what can I do to help C.J.? She’s lost her baby,’” Gilroy said.
“She’s a single mother, she doesn’t have very much money. I didn’t know what else to do, so I decided a GoFundMe might be a good idea.”
Gilroy said the account, which can be found online at gofundme.com by searching “Baby Sean Kamloops,” has gained some traction among family and friends.
The family’s focus, Gilroy said, is on Cantin and her daughter and making sure they have the support they need.
“I know C.J. is worrying about being judged for what happened, especially after choosing to tell her story publicly like this,” Gilroy said.
“Obviously, it was a preventable accident. It’s awful. But now we’re looking around our house with new eyes, thinking ‘How can I prevent something like that from happening?’
“And I think that’s the point she wants to make.”
The investigation into Sean’s death is in the hands of the BC Coroners Service.
Tim Petruk, Kamloops This Week.