Nicky and Nate Walla of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, have released chilling footage taken 10 years ago showing their son, Gavin Walla, then 7, being strangled by the looped end of a window blind cord he had been playing with in the family home.
Nicky and Nate were fortunate that their son survived the near-fatal accident. And as part of an investigation by ABC News into the failure to ban use of window blinds with accessible cords decades after they were widely recognized as domestic hazard, the parents decided to release the video of the incident that happened 10 years ago to warn other parents of the “silent killer” in their homes.
Gavin almost choked to death on a window blind cord at his parents’ home. But he was lucky to have survived because his mother saw him choking and raced to save his life before it was too late.
However, hundreds of other children have choked to death or become permanently disabled in similar incidents, and the fatalities continue today, decades after window blind cords were recognized and named as major hidden hazard in homes.
Nicky was filming two of her sons — Gavin’s siblings — playing in their strollers at their home in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, 10 years ago, when — as she picked up her phone — she accidentally turned the camera to Gavin and was confronted with the horrifying image of her seven-year-old son hanging by the neck from the window blind cord and choking to death silently.
Nicky screamed, dropped the camera and raced to rescue her son. Her husband, Nate, managed to resuscitate the little boy. He started breathing again before permanent damage was done.
The video shows the little boy in red shirt, hanging lifelessly at the end of the window blind cord. The camera continued filming the desperate moments after Nicky dropped it on the floor and rushed to rescue her son from death.
Nicky told ABC News, “I somehow got Gavin off the window blinds, but I don’t actually remember lifting him off.”
The camera records Nicky calling 911 while her husband Nate tries to resuscitate the boy.
Nicky can be heard shouting on the phone, “He choked himself! He’s blue,” while Nate shouts desperately, “Gavin! Gavin!”
Finally, the boy gasps for air and starts crying.
Nate told ABC News, “I kind of squeezed him a little bit and then he gasped for air.”
“We were the lucky ones,” Nicky and Nate concluded.
Ten years after the incident, Gavin has grown into a normal and healthy 17-year-old. Nicky and Nate decided to release the video for the first time as a warning to other parents to beware of the silent killer in their homes.
Commenting on his parents’ decision to release the video, Gavin told ABC News, “I’m glad that it’s out there. It saved the lives of other children that have been fortunate enough to have parents who have seen the video.”
After the danger of window blind cords in homes was recognized, new safety measures were introduced to reduce the risk to young children.
One of the measures was ensuring that window cords are not longer than 7.25 inches, according to the Daily Mail. But industry watchers say the measure has not been effective because although deaths and injuries have plunged since 2009, fatal cases are still being recorded every year, with the highest number of fatalities occurring among 5-year-olds, according to Parents For Window Blind Safety.
Official estimates, which the window blind industry contests, indicate that one child is choked to death every month by window blind cords.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the industry continues to use window blinds with accessible cords despite the danger to the lives of young children.
But the industry is now under mounting pressure to replace blinds with accessible cords with cordless blinds or blinds with inaccessible cords. Governments are also under pressure to ban the use of cords in window blinds.
IKEA and Target have reportedly taken blinds with accessible cords off their shelves, while Wal-Mart and Lowe’s have announced they will stop selling blinds with cords after 2018, according to ABC News.
Elliot Kaye, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, told ABC News that his agency does not have the legal authority to ban window blinds with accessible cords and that efforts to secure a ban are being blocked by industry lobbyists.
“I see decades, and I’m talking decades, about children once a month getting hanged to death by these products and it’s got to stop,” Kaye said. “I think it’s disgusting. They’re just rolling the dice and taking what they can make in terms of profit.”
[Image via Viral Vidooss/YouTube]