Friday, 4 Dec 2020

Grieving family ‘left with no answers’ after baby drowns in foster home garden

A heartbroken family has been left with "no answers" after a one-year-old baby died in foster care, it has been claimed.

Little tot Thomas Alan Branchflower was found unresponsive in a water trough in the garden of his foster home on July 27.

He was taken to Bristol Children’s Hospital’s intensive care unit but died five days later on August 1, SomersetLive reports.

An inquest has been opened into the one-year-old’s death in Williton, Somerset.

His grandmother Sheridan Farrow confirmed he had been living with foster carers at the time of his death.

She said he was "happy and healthy" despite having a genetic condition which delayed his physical development.

And she claimed he was not yet able to walk at the time of his death.

She added he was "very much loved and adored by both his parents".

On July 27, she said she was contacted by the family’s social worker and informed he had "had an accident" and was on life support in Bristol.

She said: "She advised me he was found unresponsive in a metal trough of water."

Ms Farrow, of Highbridge, Somerset, was told a full investigation would be carried out.

She says she was told the outcome would be passed onto the coroner rather than the family.

The grandmother was also advised there would be "no further police involvement" beyond their initial investigation.

She said: "My daughter and son-in-law travelled to be at his bedside, and following court hearings, the hospital obtained permission to end life support – something that we all agreed with.

"As a family, we made the difficult decision to allow organ donation and Thomas helped two other children have a chance for life.

"Sadly we are a grieving family with no answers.

"The lack of transparency is extremely disempowering and all we were left with was the right to lay Thomas to rest."

Somerset coroner Tony Williams confirmed Thomas was pronounced dead on August 1 and an inquest had been opened on the same date.

He recorded a preliminary cause of death as "hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury secondary to drowning".

Mr Williams added: "Investigations are ongoing with regard to the circumstances of Thomas's death and a full inquest hearing will be required in due course."

Somerset County Council, which is responsible for children’s services, said it was unable to comment in detail until the inquest had concluded.

A spokesman said: "This is clearly a very tragic situation and we have offered our support to all those affected."

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