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Children die in hope chest: Recalled hope chest becomes death trap for children

Two children died in a hope chest that could only be opened from the outside. The hope chest that became a death trap for the two children, eight-year-old Lexi Munroe and her seven-year-old brother Sean, was part of a recall by Lane Furniture in 1996 after six other children had suffocated in the trunks, reported the Daily News on Jan. 13, 2014.

Children die in hope chest: Recalled hope chest becomes death trap for children
Daily News, Fox, Tina Burgess

Police report that the two children died from suffocation. The hope chest was placed in a bedroom in the family's home in Franklin, Mass., near a television that was on loudly

“The hope chest was in relatively close proximity to a television that was apparently on with a substantial volume at the time.”

After the two children were discovered unconscious in the hope chest around 8 p.m. on Sunday night, they were rushed to local hospitals where they died. Investigators believe that the kids' death was a tragic accident while the siblings were playing a game.

According to the Norfolk County District Attorney's office, one parent was at home at the time of the incident. When the second parent arrived home and the family, including three other siblings, was gathering, the parents discovered that two of their children were missing.

The hope chest that the two children died in had been bought by the family secondhand about 10 years ago and is one of an estimated 12 million Lane and Virginia Maid sold cedar chests. The company’s website states that chests manufactured after 1987 have new safety locks. However, “between 1912 and 1987, Lane and Virginia Maid manufactured and sold an estimated 12 million cedar chests. Cedar chests made during these years latch shut without having to depress a button. In recent years, several children have suffocated inside chests with old style locks. As a result, Lane has launched several successful programs concentrating on lock replacement. However, there are still an estimated 6 million chests that need the locks replaced."