Meet Camden. This is his story.
Camden James Ellis was a bright, caring light in the world of our family and everyone who had the chance to meet him. He was a quiet, curious child with a joy for learning and living. Camden liked to watch and help with his baby sister, born just three months before his second birthday.
On the morning of June 11th, 2014, just two days before his second birthday, Camden’s dad went to his room to wake him up for breakfast. Camden was usually up by 8:30, but with a new baby up all night, it wasn’t surprising that he was maybe sleeping in.
He had just graduated to a toddler bed and this was his second night sleeping there.
What Camden’s father, Charlie, found will live in our nightmares forever. The three drawer, 30 ¾” dresser had pinned Camden and cut off his oxygen.
My husband screamed for me and, as I ran into Camden’s room, I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing.
My beautiful, blue-eyed baby boy was still.
I began CPR while my husband called 911. The paramedics were able to restart his heart and he was eventually transported to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
For the next 4 days, as Camden lay in a coma, we prayed and cried and wondered how this had happened to our baby boy. We celebrated his second birthday, on June 13th, 2014, in the PICU, surrounded by balloons and cards and carefully wrapped presents that he would never be able to open.
And, then, we had to come to terms with the reality that he would never recover. I thought I was having a heart attack, as the doctors told us that Camden was gone. We made the heartbreaking decision to remove him from life support and release his organs to help others.
The way the timeline worked out, we had to say goodbye on Father’s Day, June 15th, 2014. Our lives will never be the same.
What we came to find out was that his dresser, that we chose for its small size for easier access for our son to dress himself in, was poorly designed and easily tipped when the drawers were pulled out for use. We had never heard of people bolting dressers to the wall and I had never imagined that such a small piece of furniture would be dangerous. We had cabinet locks and baby gates and outlet covers and blind string covers and safe door latches. We had our car seats professionally installed, as first-time parents.
No one had ever mentioned to us that we should bolt our furniture to the wall, so it wouldn’t kill our son in a tip-over.
Our son was an overly cautious child. He would turn around and climb down backward off the two-inch tall patio slab off of our slider after he tripped once and skinned his knee. We kept nothing on top of his dresser or above it. He was taller than this dresser. He was simply opening the drawer to get to his clothing inside and THIS KILLED HIM. We did not hear the dresser fall, as his small body muffled the sounds. He could not scream or cry for help.
This is a problem with many dressers and wardrobes that has not been fixed by the furniture manufacturers. You cannot assume that your dresser is safe. You must do all you can to keep your child safe and attach your dresser to the wall. If you do not know how to do this yourself, there are resources that can help you. Please, before this happened to us, I never believed this would happen to us. This CAN happen, and DOES happen, to one child every two weeks in the United States.