Belfast Telegraph

Tafts family heartbroken over death of 'lovely wee boy' Archie killed after chest of drawers toppled

By Lisa Smyth

A family has been plunged into mourning after a freak accident claimed the life of their "lovely wee smiling boy".

Archie Tafts was crushed after climbing onto a chest of drawers that fell on him on Tuesday.

It is understood the two-year-old was being cared for at his house outside Cloughmills, Co Antrim, by a close family friend when the accident occurred.

He was taken to Antrim Area Hospital but pronounced dead a short time later.

His heartbroken parents, Nicola Lorimer and Phillip Tafts, were left too devastated to speak about the tragedy.

However, a post on Ms Lorimer Facebook page, written before the tragedy, described her life as "perfect" and said she "has the most cutest little boys who I love with all my heart and the nicest boyfriend ever".

The recently engaged couple and their six-year-old son, Jack, were last night being comforted by family and friends.

Curtains and blinds at their home on an isolated country road outside Cloughmills were closed yesterday, and a single car was parked at the rear of the property.

DUP councillor John Finlay, who knows the family, said: "I've been to see them and they are as you would expect them to be.

"They're absolutely devastated - they're in bits. It's such a terrible tragedy.

"The loss of any young child is horrific to bear but is even worse just after celebrating Christmas and the New Year together.

"I think wee Jack is just too young to understand exactly what is going on. It's a terrible thing to have to explain to him as well."

Mr Finlay said the youngster's grandparents and great grandparents had also been left heartbroken by the tragedy.

"As I understand it, Archie was known as a climber and it appears as though he climbed up on this piece of furniture and it came down on him," he continued. "No one is to blame, but I'm sure the person looking after him will never get over it.

"It's just an awful, terrible tragedy. Cloughmills is a small place and when something like this happens, the whole village mourns.

"We've had our fair share of tragedy here. This is just the latest terrible thing to happen to a family from here."

Meanwhile, tributes have been paid to the little toddler.

One family friend, who did not want to be named, said: "It's unbelievable - my heart just goes out to them.

"It just goes to show how quickly an accident like this can happen.

"Within a second your whole life is ruined.

"You can't take your eyes off them at that age.

"It's so scary something like this can happen."

Heather Loughridge from the Reformed Presbyterian Church parents and toddler group, which runs weekly on Wednesday mornings, said: "He was just a lovely wee smiling boy.

"The last we [saw everyone] was December 9, at our Christmas party, and Archie was there.

"He would have been there most weeks, and he only turned two recently, in November.

"He was such a happy, pleasant wee fella. He would have taken part in all the activities.

"At the end of the session, we would always do singing and dancing and he was always up taking part.

"At the Christmas party, he made a reindeer decoration, and the person working with him put the date on it so his mum would have it as a keepsake."

Ms Loughridge said word of the accident spread throughout the village yesterday evening.

But she added it was difficult to comprehend that Archie had been killed.

"I got a phone call from a friend and I haven't really taken it in," she explained. "It is difficult to believe that we won't see him again.

"We were due to start back again next Wednesday after the Christmas break, but I have no idea whether that is going to happen now."

A statement was issued by the PSNI on behalf of Archie's family yesterday afternoon.

"They, along with their extended family, have suffered a tremendous loss and they wish to be left alone to grieve for their son," it said.

"Archie's parents and extended family would like to thank all who have expressed their condolences at this distressing and difficult time. However, as this is a personal tragedy for them, they will be making no public comment."

Friends of Ms Lorimer wrote messages of support on social media throughout the day as news of her youngest son's death spread throughout the community.

Diane Lynch wrote: "Can't even begin to imagine what you are going through.

"Thinking of you all at this very sad time."

Nicola McMaster said: "Can't even begin to imagine. So sorry. Thinking and praying for you all at this sad time."

Shannon McKain Stoner added: "I know there are no words that could possibly be said to help ease this but please know our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family."

And Dorthey Hayes wrote: "God has Archie in his keeping. He always will be in your heart."

A spokesman from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said a crew responded to a call at 12.30am and had taken a boy to Antrim Area Hospital.

The PSNI said that a report would be prepared for the coroner following the death of the toddler.

Tuesday's tragedy is the latest accident to rock the tight-knit rural community.

Adam Gilmour (8) died after a car struck his mum and her six children as they walked to school in the village in November 2014.

Teddy bears, a football shirt and other tributes to the youngster remained close to the scene of the accident yesterday.

And in October, eight-year-old James Gregg was left fighting for his life after he fell from a tractor which was travelling along the Old Frosses Road close to Cloughmills.

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