Baby Found Dead in Pram – Evesham Inquest Verdict
A verdict of “Death by Misadventure” was recorded at the Evesham inquest on Monday, on Peter John Loehnis, 4-months-old child of Lieut-Commander and Mrs Clive Loehnis of Hodys Place, Wickhamford, who was found dead in his perambulator on Saturday. Medical evidence showed that death was due to asphyxiation.
Evidence was given by the child’s nurse, Miss P M Selby, by Commander and Mrs Loehnis, and by Dr H L Heath.
The Coroner (Mr H J H Saunders) said he was satisfied that the child’s death was the result of an accident and that no one was to blame.
* * * * *
A fuller article appeared in The Evesham Standard of 10th August 1940:
BABY SUFFOCATED IN PERAMBULATOR – Wickhamford Officer’s Bereavement
Tragedy marred the short leave home to his wife and three children on Saturday of Lieut-Commander Clive Loehnis of Hody’s Place, Wickhamford, near Evesham. During his visit home his four-month-old son, Peter John, was asphyxiated in his perambulator.
At Monday’s inquest at Evesham, the Coroner, Mr H J H Saunders, returning a verdict of “Death by misadventure”, said he was satisfied the baby’s death was a pure accident and that no one was to blame.
Nurse Phyllis M Selby said that when she left the house at 1.20 pm for her afternoon off, the baby was asleep in his perambulator. She returned at 9.10 pm and found the perambulator on the lawn. The child was lying on his right side and the nurse became alarmed at the whiteness of his face. His head was in the pillow, and though his body was warm, she was practically certain he was dead.
In reply to the Coroner, the nurse said she could not remember whether the child’s shawl was round his arm. She thought he must have been asphyxiated in his sleep.
The father, Lieut-Commander Clive Loehnis, who was home on short leave on Saturday, said his son seemed all right during the times he saw him during the day, and at 8 o’clock, the last occasion he saw the baby alive, he looked absolutely normal, and he told his wife the baby was sleeping very comfortably.
Mrs Rosemary Beryl Loehnis said her child was healthy and she had had no trouble with him since his birth on March 25. She arranged to take charge of the baby when Nurse Selby eft the house and gave him his feed and washed him at about 6 pm. He became a little restless with his teeth afterwards and at 7.30 pm, when she heard him cry, she put him on his left side, taking care there was nothing to stop him moving. She was sure she did not tuck in his shawl too tightly.
The Coroner: You have had two other children; it does not seem likely to me you should tuck him in too tightly.
Dr H L Heath, who vaccinated the child, said the child was dead when he was called to the house at 9.30 pm. He examined the perambulator and found signs of the child having vomited his milk food. The cause of death was asphyxiation.
In the doctor’s opinion it was quite possible for asphyxiation to take place if the child was in the position described by the witnesses and had vomited. “It is medical experience that a child in the circumstances described would not struggle to prevent asphyxiation.” The doctor added that a baby of the age of four months would lose consciousness and be suffocated more quickly than a grown-up.