Boy, 4, 'killed instantly' after garden post collapsed, inquest hears

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Midlands Air Ambulance was called to treat four-year-old Leopold Mercer, in Hanbury, Worcestershire Credit: ITV News Central

A four-year-old boy was killed instantly just weeks after he started school when a heavy garden post collapsed on top of him, an inquest heard. 

Leopold Mercer was swinging on an iron gate in his garden with a friend after football training on 18 September.

His parents, Eva Frickel and Jason Mercer, heard the other child scream "Leo" in a way that meant they instantly knew something was wrong, Worcestershire Coroner’s Court was told. 

The couple frantically tried in vain to resuscitate Leopold before emergency crews arrived at their home in Hanbury, Worcestershire.

West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedics and Midlands Air Ambulance doctors continued CPR, but with no response after 42 minutes, Leopold was declared dead at the scene.

Ms Frickel described to the court how she’d just driven the two boys back from Sunday football training when they got out of the car and were hanging on an iron gate next to the driveway. 

Moments later, a concrete post fell on top of the toddler’s head at 11:48am. A post-mortem examination found Leopold, who was born in Camden, north London, died due to a traumatic head and neck injury.

Senior Coroner David Reid said West Mercia Police viewed Leopold Mercer's death as a "tragic accident"

Ms Frickel said: "Leopold had only been at school a couple of weeks and was a happy, outgoing little boy. On the driveway, there is a run of pillars in a half circle and one pillar has a garden gate attached to it."The boys got out of the car and went over to play. I’d just moved the car onto the grass when I heard the other child scream ‘Leo’ and could tell from the sound of it that something was wrong.

"I ran round and saw him under the pillar that had fallen. It was so heavy, I wasn’t able to move it."

Ms Frickel recalled how Leopold's dad ran from the house and struggled to lift the pillar off his son before starting CPR while she dialled 999. 

Ms Frickel told Thursday's [Dec 1] hearing in Stourport-on-Severn: "It wasn’t long until I heard a helicopter and sirens but everything from then on is pretty blurred."

Since the tragedy, the mum said she had spoken to Leopold’s friend and he’d told her they were "hanging on the same side of the gate" when the pillar fell. The other child suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital to be checked.

Dr Christopher Hamilton, a doctor with Midlands Air Ambulance who attended the incident, said: "Leopold was lying on the path next to a fallen brick gate post and metal gate. The paramedics said Leo was not responding when they arrived.

"He appeared to have a very extensive head injury that was likely to have been a devastating brain injury and severe maxillofacial fractures amongst other things."

Pathologist Dr Andrew Bamber reported that a traumatic head and neck injury caused the death. 

Dr Bamber said: "The catastrophic injury to the head was consistent with blunt force trauma and likely to have been instantaneously fatal."

West Mercia Police officers investigated as a matter of routine and found “nothing sinister” about the circumstances, noting that “it appeared in their view to be a tragic accident”, said senior coroner David Reid.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, Mr Reid said: "Leopold sustained a fatal head and neck injury when a brick gate pillar fell on him while playing at home and he died from his injuries at the scene.

"His death was due to an unnatural event of the collapse of a brick pillar."