Girl, 11, accidentally strangled herself to death while on video call to friends

An 11-year-old girl tragically died after accidentally strangling herself on a garden rope swing whilst on the phone during a video call to her friends.

Grace Patricia Hamnet, from Widnes in Cheshire, died five days after the May 23 incident at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.

An inquest at Warrington Coroner's Court yesterday heard that Grace's mum discovered her in the swing. She had gone outside to ask Grace to look out for a McDonald's delivery.

A concerned neighbour heard her mum's screams and jumped the fence to perform CPR, reports CheshireLive.

Grace was in cardiac arrest when the ambulance arrived at the home on Tedder Square and attempts to resuscitate her continued during the journey to Whiston Hospital.

She was eventually stabilised and remained "deeply unconscious" before being transferred to Alder Hey.

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In written evidence read out at the hearing Dr Carla Thomas, a pediatric intensive care consultant, said: "Grace was perfectly fit and well on the morning of May 23.

"She had last been seen playing in the garden at home while on a video chat with friends."

When Grace arrived at Alder Hey she underwent a CT scan, which revealed that she had sustained a brain injury resulting from the loss of oxygen and blood supply.

An MRI scan the following day confirmed that Grace had a "devastating brain injury", with neurosurgeons concluding that there was nothing more that could be done before her death on May 28.

Written evidence from Detective Inspector Robert Lees, of Cheshire Constabulary, was also read out at the hearing.

It stated: "She had been on a group chat with school friends.

"They indicated that during the telephone group conversation Grace had shown them the rope and said 'I'll be able to put my neck through this and hang myself'. She said it in a joking way."

The hearing was told that Grace had previously said this on WhatsApp.

After stating this to her friends, Grace's phone was left pointing to the sky and there was no further communication from her, the inquest heard.

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Her friends became scared and notified their parents who contacted the relevant authorities.

DI Lees said Grace's mum had made it clear that her daughter would not self-harm and was a happy child.

She had just received a good school report, the hearing was told.

A Cheshire Constabulary investigation confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace's death and no third party involvement.

"There were no concerns from anyone about Grace," said DI Lees.

Assistant coroner Heath Westerman accepted the medical cause of death – hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury due to strangulation.

He said there was no evidence of intent to self-harm and concluded that Grace's death was accidental.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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