Family of 3-year-old Oklahoma boy who died after he was trapped inside a hope chest gives heartbreaking warning to parents
Wyatt had suffocated to death after sneaking out of bed at night and lying down on blankets inside the chest. At some point, the chest shut tight and the kid did not wake up from his slumber
MUSTANG, OKLAHOMA: The family of a 3-year-old boy, who suffocated and died after being trapped inside a hope chest, has opened up about the tragedy a month after his death.
Wyatt Eastin Aldridge was born on July 4 and was an adventurous kid like his father. He was obsessed with fire trucks and was the happiest whenever he got to spend time with the firefighters of his town.
No one suspected that on October 18, 2019, his life will unexpectantly come to an end. The child's grandmother Angela Caricofe said that the rest of the family members woke up on that ill-fated day to find that the young boy was missing from his house.
When they began a systematic search of the house, they found him lying inside a hope chest that the family owned. "He looked like he was just sleeping," Angela told KFOR.
However, the harrowing truth was that Wyatt had suffocated to death after sneaking out of bed at night and lying down on blankets inside the chest. At some point, the chest shut tight and the kid did not wake up from his slumber.
"We know guns are unsafe around kids," Angela said. "We know swimming pools. As parents and grandparents we try to think of all the dangers, but you just can't think of all of them."
She added that Wyatt had never shown any interest in the chest and they did not why he would suddenly decide to get into it, which is typically used to preserve blankets, clothing and family heirlooms.
Hope chests were flagged by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1996 after they were responsible for the deaths of six kids. Despite the product being recalled as deaths kept happening over the years, they remained in circulation at garage and estate sales, like the one where the Aldridges bought it from.
Now, the family is warning people about the hazards of the chest. "Be sure to unscrew that top locking mechanism," she said. "Just please, if you have this box or if you know anybody that has it, get the word out," Angela said.
Wyatt's mother Jasmine Aldridge fondly remembered her son as being a bundle of joy. "He was a firecracker because he lived happy, wild — with no fear," Jasmine Aldridge said of her son.
"He'd say, 'I just love you, mama. I just love you,'" Jasmine said. "He'd tell Clint, 'I love you daddy'. He used to tell Austin, 'You're the best bubba ever,' and Austin would tell him, 'You're the best bubba ever too'."