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Family’s heartbreak as ‘little girl went to sleep, but never woke up’

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A family has shared their anguish after their “bubbly and bright” three-year-old went to bed healthy but was discovered dead the next morning.

Eva Rydings, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was found dead and surrounded by vomit in bed at her grandmother’s house on June 11 last year. An inquest at Rochdale Coroners Court on Monday (March 13) heard how the three-year-old had appeared ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ before going to bed at around 8pm the night before, except for a mild runny nose.

The inquest heard how Eva had slept on a pull-out bed that was slightly angled, meaning her head potentially laid at an angle higher than the rest of her body. However, that mattress was described as ‘very soft’, and Senior Coroner Joanne Kearsley said there was not enough evidence to suggest that this contributed to Eva’s death, and ruled that she died from unknown causes.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, one of Eva’s guardians Shaun Casey, said she ‘loved life’ and had so much ahead of her.

“She came to us at five weeks old, and she was a proper little daddy’s girl,” he added. “She loved going to the farm with her mum and sister. She was mad about Peppa Pig. She was looking forward to starting school.”

He said the months since Eva’s unexplained death in June had been ‘tough’, with the family left looking for answers over how their little girl could go to bed healthy but never wake up.

“It has not been easy,” Shaun told the M.E.N. “We had numerous holidays booked with her, so that’s going to be difficult. Christmas last year was very hard.

“But she just loved life.”

Giving evidence, Detective Inspector Abigail Cronin, from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said while investigating Eva’s death, she was told of how the three-year-old had spent the night at her grandmother’s house – somewhere she stayed frequently.

DI Cronin explained how Eva’s grandmother had put her to bed for the night in a room shared with her five-year-old brother. But at around 8am the next morning, she was woken by the boy, who said Eva would not wake and ‘looked dead’. After finding Eva unresponsive on her bed and surrounded by vomit, she swiftly called an ambulance and asked Mr and Mrs Casey to come home.

Paramedics arrived at the address on Fir Lane shortly after 8am, and found Eva lying in her bed facing the ceiling, as Shaun administered CPR. Stuart Humphries, from North West Ambulance Service, said he found Eva’s mouth swilled with vomit and blood. The inquest heard how he gave her ‘advanced life support’ but did not see any change in her condition.

Eva was rushed to Royal Oldham Hospital in an air ambulance, where she was sadly pronounced dead.

Consultant Paediatric Pathologist Dr Gemma Petts, who carried out Eva’s postmortem, said she found traces of ‘several viruses’ including pneumonia and Strep A in Eva’s blood, but that this was ‘normal’ and she did not believe it was significant enough to have contributed to her death.

“It’s not entirely impossible that Eva had an infection with group A strep because she did have pneumonia, but for her to have an infection that contributed to her death, I would have expected to see much more severe evidence of inflammation,” she said, telling the court that the postmortem explained why Eva had vomited, but not why she had been ‘unable to move away’ from the vomit – or an exact cause of death.

Describing Eva, her other guardian Deborah Casey said she was a ‘bright, bubbly girl’ who was ‘very switched on and smart for her age’ and ‘always smiling’.

Coroner Kearsley said that there was not enough evidence to say that Eva’s sleeping position contributed to her death. Concluding, she was a ‘little girl who was clearly loved and cared for by a great number of people’.

She concluded Eva’s death as unascertained and recorded an open conclusion.

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