Pupil accidentally strangled himself escaping from school toilet window

1 Nov 2016

The inquest into the tragic death of a nine-year-old schoolboy found he accidentally strangled himself while escaping from a toilet window after the door handle was removed.

Aryan Banerjee was placed in an induced coma for four months before he passed away last September with his mum, Maumita, and dad, Anjan, at his bedside.

The Taradale Primary School pupil was rushed to Hawke’s Bay Hospital on May 25 after he was found hanging by his clothing outside a ground floor toilet window.

An inquest into the tragedy found the door handle had been removed by the caretaker shortly before lunchtime, around 12.50pm, leaving Aryan with no way of reopening the door.

The New Zealand schoolboy then jumped the 1.8 metres to the ground, but his shirt became caught on the latch, choking himself.

The caretaker, who has not been named, was repairing the lock when a screw broke, forcing him to remove the entire handle.

He described the incident as an “unfortunate accident”, and maintained he had always offered to personally apologise to the Banerjee’s.

Lawyer for the couple, Nigel Hampton QC, asked the caretaker that after removing the handle: “You would have known, would you not... that when the door shut there was no way to open the door without using a handle?”

He replied “yes”, and said he did not tell another staff member as there were no teachers in the classroom, and he was focussed on repairing the lock as quickly as possible.

When he returned to the door around 1pm after removing the handle and finding it shut, he says he looked around but could not see anything out of the ordinary, and “called out”.

The window “appeared to be in the same position”, and so he did not go over to it, The Dominion Post reported.

Mr Hampton said the Banerjee’s did not understand how he failed to notice Aryan “hanging there, being strangled by his clothing.”

The caretaker said: “I don't know how I missed it. I looked around but I did not see it.

"This was an unfortunate accident.”

Mr Hampton grilled school principal, Marty Hantz, asking: “I​s it acceptable to take handles off a door and leave it so it could shut on a child and trap the child without warning the teacher or children that the toilet was not safe to use?”

Mr Hantz said it was not, and confirmed changes had been made to the doors since the tragedy.

There was now a 30cm gap to the floor, and window latches had been modified so they did not open enough to allow a child through.

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