UK boy "died after ambulance crew's sat nav broke"
Corey Seymour suffered a heart attack
BROMSGROVE, England — As brave schoolboy Corey Seymour fought for breath in his mother's arms after a heart attack, he sensed that he might not survive.
"Mum," he whispered. "I can't do this anymore." He had battled agonising asthma attacks for years, but this time it was different.
Corey died after what his grieving mother claims was a catalogue of errors, and is demanding an inquiry into the tragedy.
Last night Melanie Carver, 40, said: "I have steeled myself for a fight to find out exactly what happened on the day Corey died." The youngster had suffered from brittle asthma - a chronic form of the condition - ever since he was a baby.
He regularly had to be rushed by West Midlands Ambulance Service from the family home in Bromsgrove to the Alexandra Hospital in neighbouring Redditch for treatment.
But on September 13 last year Corey suffered his most severe attack as he ate breakfast before going to Parkside Middle School. Anxious Melanie dialled 999 at 8.22am but no ambulance arrived until 8.46am, even though the nearest ambulance station is just a mile and a half from where they live. While they waited, housewife Melanie, who was pregnant with her ninth child, cradled Corey in her arms.
"When Corey's asthma attack started, I knew it was bad," she said. "I knew we had to get an ambulance and get him to hospital as quickly as we could but instead they sent a car.
"The paramedic who turned up did all he could, but he saw how desperate the situation was and he was asking where the ambulance was.
"I phoned them at 8.22am but the ambulance did not arrive until 8.46am. By that time Corey had suffered a heart attack. I will never forget what he said to me. He just looked up at me and whispered: 'Mum, I can't do this anymore'."
"He did not get to hospital until 9.02am. By that time it was too late.
"The medics at Alexandra Hospital did everything they could but my son died soon afterwards."
The death of the courageous nine-year-old was a tragedy in itself - but then the family suffered a cruel twist. Melanie says she received bombshell news from a social worker who had met with medics.
She said the reason that the ambulance had taken 24 minutes to arrive was because its satellite navigation system had broken. The target response time is eight minutes.
"I could not believe what I was hearing," she said. "The social worker told me she had attended a meeting with medics in the days after Corey's death and they had said that there was a delay getting to our home because the sat-nav was broken.
"How can highly trained medical professionals be so reliant on sat-nav? Could they not have used a map? Could they not have admitted to control that they were lost and get guided in? Could they not have asked for help from someone in the street? "It was the worst news I could possibly have been told and it has made me determined to find out what happened on that day."
Last Wednesday Worcester Coro-ner Geraint Williams adjourned the inquest into Corey's death because he wanted more information about the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
Melanie attended the hearing and says she pressed the coroner into investigating the matter more thoroughly.
"I got the impression people thought this was a straightforward case, but it is anything but that," she explained. "I need to know whether a broken sat-nav meant the difference between life and death for my son."
Because if that proves to be the case, then the ambulance service needs to take a long hard look at they way they do things. "I knew from previous, horrible experiences how much trouble Corey was in, so why they did not send an ambulance immediately is beyond me.
"The thought of it is tearing me apart inside." Corey had just started his first year at his new school in Bromsgrove and was looking forward to Christmas."
He was such a cheeky little character in spite of his asthma," said Melanie. "He never let it keep him back.
"I remember he was already scouring eBay to look up bargain Christmas presents for himself, so he wouldn't cost me too much money!
"He was so thoughtful and caring like that. He really lit up the room when he was in it, he was such a little entertainer.
"I always found it amazing that he could be so chirpy when he was continually affected by his asthma. But he just saw it as part of his life and did his very best to just get on with things."
Melanie is still struggling to come to terms with her son's death and regularly visits his grave, with his eight surviving brothers and sisters.
There are big sisters Jade, 22 and Paige, 15, Chloe, 8, Kiera, 7 and Emmie, 3. Corey also leaves behind big brothers Nathan, 19, and Liam, 11 as well as baby brother Tommy, who is just six weeks old.
Melanie was five months pregnant when Corey died, and has called her newborn son Tommy because Corey had always insisted he would love to have a brother called Tommy.
"I have no idea where he got it from but he suddenly decided he loved the name Tommy and insisted I call the new baby that," said Melanie.
I didn't really like the name to be honest and thought it was strange he was so insistent, but now I think it is the least I could do in his memory.I hope there will always be a little bit of Corey in Tommy as he grows up."
People have been so kind to us since Corey passed away. We even got a card and a lovely note of condolence from Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish because Corey was a big Villa fan. We will cherish that forever. It was such a nice gesture.
"But for now I am determined to find out the truth, whatever that may be."
A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: "We can confirm that a fault with the sat-nav did occur. Nevertheless, the service does not solely rely on the sat-nav. Ambulance crews also have alternatives such as map books, and the Emergency Operations Centre can advise crews with the use of GPS location systems.
West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to an address in Bromsgrove on September 13, 2011.
"A paramedic in a rapid response vehicle and an ambulance were automatically dispatched on receipt of the call. The rapid response vehicle arrived within five minutes to find a nine-year-old patient who appeared to have suffered an asthma attack before going into cardiac arrest.
"The paramedic and a GP who was also at the scene commenced advanced life support on the patient. By the time the paramedic and GP had assessed and treated the patient, the ambulance had arrived and the patient was conveyed to hospital.
"The Trust has not received any communication from the family of the child in relation to this case. If they would like to do so, we would ask them to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service so that we can discuss any aspect they have questions about.
"The Coroner has not yet completed his inquest into the case, but the Trust continues to assist him fully. We are saddened to hear of the death of this patient and offer our sincere condolences to the family."
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