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Baby killed when homemade lift hit her

A mother has told how she screamed and tried to save her daughter when she saw an electronic lift in their house descending towards her.

Dency Kurian gave evidence at an inquest yesterday into the tragic death of her 13-month-old daughter Chrizina Johnson at the family home last year.

The baby's father, Johnson Kurian, who has a background in construction and electronics, had built a domestic lift in his home in 2009 to transport items to and from the attic.

But on July 7 last year, the lift descended on to their daughter, resulting in injuries that led to her death.

A verdict of accidental death was returned yesterday.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard how the Indian couple, who have been living in Ireland since 2001, were upstairs with their then five-year-old son Alex and daughter Chrizina. They were preparing for a family holiday to London when the tragedy occurred.

The domestic lift was powered by a motor, which Mr Kurian had installed in the attic. It consisted of a steel wire rope attached to a wooden crate.

The power box had an emergency stop button and would also stop automatically if the operating button was released.

Mr Kurian told the inquest he had used the lift to get a cleaning product down from the attic at around 11pm on the night of the tragedy in order to clean the baby's car seat.

His wife Dency, a staff nurse at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, was ironing in a back bedroom.

The couple's son Alex had asked his father if he could go up in the lift but Mr Kurian refused to let him.

The father told the inquest that he had been watching over his son and daughter, who were sitting in the stationary lift on the landing of their home. One side of the lift was lying open.

Mr Kurian said he turned his back to go into another room for a moment when he heard the sound of the lift ascending.

His wife Dency recalled hearing a "tumbling sound", after which she ran from the room to see her daughter sitting on the landing and the lift descending rapidly above her.

She screamed but could not reach her daughter in time to move her to safety.

Mr Kurian told the inquest that when he came out of an adjoining room he saw his daughter lying face down under the lift with blood coming from her head.

Mr Kurian noticed that his son was by the operating buttons.

The couple pressed the switch on the wall but the lift would not move, so they desperately tried to physically lift it off their daughter.

An ambulance was called and paramedics who arrived at the scene worked on the injured child, before rushing her to Temple Street Children's Hospital.

However, despite the best efforts of medics, she passed away at 3am as a result of her extensive head injury.

Dublin City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said there were no standardised safety requirements for domestic lifts, so he hoped to bring the details of the case to the attention of the relevant standard authority in order to alert them to any potential dangers.

An engineer's report conducted after the accident, described the lift as "ingenious", adding that great thought, time and effort had gone into its design, which incorporated a number of safety features.

However, the report concluded that on this occasion the lift's motor had failed.

The coroner said it was a terrible tragedy which he hoped the grieving parents would find the strength to bear.

After the inquest, the visibly upset couple said nothing would ever replace their daughter.

"She is our princess and she always will be with me, nothing will ever replace her. She will always be with us," said Mrs Kurian.

Mr Kurian said his daughter's death was a huge loss, but the accident had been "unusual" in nature, so he could make no comment on the use of such lifts in other people's homes.

Belfast Telegraph