Belfast Telegraph

Little Kai Corkum's heartbroken mum burying second child in two years - 'you can't describe it'

Yasmine Corkum speaks after death of son Kai (3) who was struck by car

Michael and Yasmine Corkum
Michael and Yasmine Corkum
Mason, Kai and Tyler with grandparents Kenneth and Margaret
Three-year-old Kai Corkum who died on Friday 14 December. Kai is pictured making his christmas list for this year.
Three-year-old Kai Corkum hugging mum Yasmine
Parents Yasmine and Michael with Kai (bottom of picture) and brothers Mason and Tyler and sister Lily-mai, who died in January 2017
Flowers at scene of the accident
Kai with brothers Mason and Tyler
Victoria Leonard

By Victoria Leonard

The grieving mother of a three-year-old Co Down boy who died after a collision with a car has spoken of her heartbreak at having to bury her second child in two years.

Little Kai Corkum was declared brain dead following the collision on Newtownards' Movilla Road at around 5.20pm on Thursday, and his family took the devastating decision to turn off his life-support on Friday.

Kai had been walking to the shop with his aunt Amanda Corkum (23) and her partner to get a lollipop when the tragedy occurred.

A 21-year-old man who was arrested at the scene on suspicion of dangerous driving has since been released pending further inquiries.

Yesterday, Kai's distraught mum Yasmine (26) said her youngest son's death was the second tragedy to hit the family in recent years, after the death of their 19-week-old baby Lily-mai in January 2017.

The child's grandfather Kenneth Corkum (53) said that Kai's brothers Mason (4) and Tyler, whose sixth birthday was yesterday, believe that he is simply sleeping in his room.

"They say you should never have to bury your own child, but I'm having to bury my second in two years," said Yasmine, who said that young Kai's body was returned to his family home on Saturday.

"There are no words to describe it.

"Lily-mai passed away on January 3, 2017 - her heart was on the opposite side when she was born.

"She was operated on in Great Ormond Street Hospital and that gave her a fighting chance at life, but she contracted pneumonia, and that's what killed her.

Three-year-old Kai Corkum who died on Friday 14 December. Kai is pictured making his christmas list for this year.
Three-year-old Kai Corkum who died on Friday 14 December. Kai is pictured making his christmas list for this year.

"Kai will be buried beside his sister in Ballywalter this week. At this stage we think the service will be on Wednesday but it has yet to be finalised.

"He is in his wee bed at the minute, his wee casket will be here tomorrow (Monday).

"They keep 'born sleeping' caskets, but for children his age they have to be made, as it doesn't happen often.

"We have picked a blue one, as that is his favourite colour.

"I think I'm still numb - it's just as if he is sleeping, being lazy and not getting out of bed."

Recalling the evening of the horrific incident, Yasmine said she and her husband Michael Corkum (31) raced to the scene.

Kai with brothers Mason and Tyler
Kai with brothers Mason and Tyler

"We were on the scene within two minutes of it happening. I was upstairs when Amanda phoned, and my mother-in-law shouted up that Kai had been hit by a car," she recalled.

"When I got there, people were working with him.

"They held me back so that people could work on him, and I wasn't allowed to touch him.

"It was very difficult, I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and give him a cuddle.

"My husband passed out."

The couple went in the ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

"They managed to get Kai breathing in the ambulance as we were approaching the Royal, and they brought him in and tried to stabilise him," said Yasmine.

"They gave him a CT scan and found the brain injury, and we were told to prepare ourselves for the worst.

"The brain injury meant he was brain dead, and he was taken upstairs to the Intensive Care Unit and put on life support."

Yasmine says the devastated family were told that it was only the life support machines which were keeping her young son alive.

"They gave us a couple of hours to say our goodbyes," she continued.

"On Friday we agreed for them to switch it off - it wasn't fair for him or us to keep going the way he was. It looked like he was lying there sleeping.

"It's devastating having to turn off the life support for your child. No-one should have to do it."

Yasmine said that Kai was a mischievous and caring child who loved the TV show Paw Patrol and playing football with his brothers.

"If you told him not to do something, he did it. He was a bit cheeky," she recalled yesterday.

"He loved being mischievous.

"He was fascinated with sitting on his granny Margaret, he would be straight up on her knee, the tea would have been down the both of them.

"It will be his birthday on January 16, and it is my eldest son Tyler's birthday today (Sunday).

"Tyler's aunts took him to the pantomime.

"It was meant to be a day of celebration. We had planned to go and have a family day, but there's not a celebratory atmosphere here. I have lost the future years with my son."

Her father-in-law Kenneth, who also attended the scene of the collision, said the family wanted to express their gratitude to two male passers-by who frantically tried to save Kai's life.

"We want to thank them," he said.

"They performed CPR, they worked on him for a long time."

Kenneth said that young Mason and Tyler "don't really understand what is going on".

"Kai is lying up in his bed - his brothers think he is sleeping," he explained.

"One wanted to go to the shop to buy him a Kinder egg, so we went and bought it for him.

"It was bad enough the first time to lose the wee girl, and now to lose this wee boy after having him for three years and 11 months is heartbreaking.

"He was a very affectionate wee boy - if we were coming round to his house or going home he was always stopping us and putting his lips out to kiss us. Every time you came into the house he was onto the knee, no-one else could get on."

Kenneth said that his family had received several messages of support from other shocked parents.

"A lot of parents are devastated, everyone is devastated," he continued. "They are thinking that it could have happened to their child."

Kenneth also thanked the local community for supporting the family, and all those who had tried to help Kai.

"The whole community is behind us," he said.

"It has helped us to get through. You don't realise how many people are thinking about you until something like this happens."

Kai attended the Chuckles Pre-School Centre in the grounds of Castle Gardens Primary School.

The school remained closed on Friday, calling off its Christmas service which had been scheduled for that day.

In a statement on Saturday, the school said: "We are beyond devastated at the news that one of the youngest members of our school community has passed.

"On behalf of every member of our school community can I express our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to Kai's brothers and cousins, his parents and the Corkum family circle at this most tragic of times."

A fundraising page set up to cover Kai's funeral costs had raised over £3,000 at the time of going to press.

The organiser said: "Kai was a loving, beautiful and smart little boy and never took the smile off his face.

"I have set this page up to try to help the family with costs.

"It will also give one less thing to worry about so they can grieve for their son in peace. Sending love to Kai who's up with the angels and his baby sister."

On Saturday, police issued a renewed appeal for witnesses to the incident. Inspector O'Connor said: "The collision involved a silver-coloured Volkswagen Golf and occurred around 5.20pm.

"I would ask anyone who was in the Movilla Road area of the town around that time on Thursday afternoon and witnessed the collision to get in touch with police as soon as possible, as you may have information vital to our investigation.

"If you were driving in the area you may also have dashcam footage - and if you do, again I would urge you to contact us on 101, quoting reference number 1000 of 13/12/18."

The fundraiser for Kai's funeral is at www.gofundme.com/in-loving-memory-of-a-beautiful-young-boy-kai

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