Boy, 12, crushed to death by collapsing wall 'as he helped dad with DIY project'

Scott-Swaley Daniel Stevens, 12, who died when a garage wall collapsed.
Scott-Swaley Stevens was helping his father with a DIY project when the wall collapsed. Credit: Family photo

A 12-year-old boy was crushed to death when the garage wall he was helping his father to knock down at their home fell on them both, an inquest heard.

Scott-Swaley Stevens’ mother, Charmaine Lee, went to the fire station next door, shouting “help, my baby is trapped”, after his sister had first raised the alarm.

The youngster, known as Swaley to his family, died at the scene in St John’s Road in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex on 21 October last year while his father, Scott Stevens, was freed having sustained a suspected broken arm.

Essex senior coroner, Lincoln Brookes, concluded that Scott-Swaley’s death was an “extraordinarily tragic accident”.

Mr Stevens told police, in a statement read by the coroner: "The wall fell onto us both after we had rocked it to push it over.

"I didn’t use any tools to complete this. It fell on to us within seconds which I couldn’t stop.”

He said he believed they were "trapped under the wall for the next two hours but no-one could hear us", but Ms Lee told the inquest she believed they had been outside for about five minutes.

The house had been bought by the family to be done up, the inquest heard. Credit: ITV News

The coroner said that he suspected the amount of time was “much less” than Mr Stevens believed, noting he was “in a great deal of pain and a great deal of distress” after the wall collapsed.

Firefighter Simon Tarrant said, in a statement read by the coroner, that Ms Lee shouted for help at the fire station next door to their home.

He said when firefighters went out people were “frantically trying to move the rubble”.

Detective Inspector James Hardingham said police were called by the fire service at 6.56pm and Scott-Swaley was pronounced dead at the scene.

He said both the rear and front of the lean-to garage had already been removed, “leaving one external wall standing”.

“They rocked the wall but, unfortunately, it rocked backwards onto them,” said Mr Hardingham.

He said that Ms Lee’s daughter had raised the alarm, going inside and shouting to her mother, “help, mum! Daddy and Swaley are trapped under the wall”.

“They went next door to the fire station to try to get help,” said Mr Hardingham.

He said that the family had “bought the property to renovate and sell for a profit”.

The coroner said the home was “in the process of renovation and the family were largely staying in a caravan at the time”.

“They were doing it themselves,” Mr Brookes said.

He continued: “Following a fish and chip supper, Swaley and his father Scott went out it seems, and I find they went out to have a go at finishing the garage or at least to inspect what was due next.”

Mr Brookes recorded that Scott-Swaley died of compression asphyxia after the wall collapsed on him.

“The weight of the wall put such pressure on his chest that his heart couldn’t work properly,” said Mr Brookes.

“His blood couldn’t reach his brain, he went unconscious and died.”

He said it was an “extraordinarily tragic accident”, adding: “He was a 12-year-old boy with his whole life ahead of him.”

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