• The mother heard the child make a struggling noise in another room
  • He had choked on a semi-deflated balloon
  • An autopsy revealed the balloon was lodged in his windpipe

A young couple was devastated after their 11-month-old baby boy tragically choked to death on a party balloon.

The incident took place last Thursday in Mount Warrigal, located south of Sydney, Australia. Ashleigh Chapman, 19, was having her lunch in the kitchen while her infant son, Heath, was playing in the lounge space inside the family’s home. Halfway through her lunch, Chapman heard Heath making a strange sound which she thought was a cough, reported.

After hearing a second such sound, Chapman rushed over to find the boy lying unconscious on the floor. Heath had choked on a semi-deflated balloon.

"It was just a normal cough at first and I didn’t think anything of it then a few moments later I heard another sound and it wasn’t so much of a cough but a struggling noise and that’s when I quickly ran out to him," Chapman told the outlet.

She then began performing CPR on her child, and frantically checked the boy’s airways for any obstacle. The mother then called her partner and Heath’s father and enlisted the help of emergency responders.

"Before I called triple-0, I put my fingers in his mouth to see if there was anything in there but I couldn’t feel anything," Chapman said. "I just didn’t believe it. My whole world got taken away from me."

She said such packets should henceforth have larger warning levels so that these tragedies could be avoided.

Chapman said police rescue teams and paramedics arrived shortly and did everything in their power to save the child but in vain. "There was so much happening – they were running through every door possible – and had the defibrillator on him," Chapman told the outlet.

"Then after about five minutes of trying, they flew him in a helicopter to the hospital," said Chapman.

Doctors couldn't save Heath despite working on him for at least an hour and broke it to his mother that he didn't make it. "I had to tell my partner by myself and had to witness his reaction and also had to tell my family before they got to the hospital to see Heath – which took a huge toll on me," Chapman told

An autopsy later revealed a semi-inflated balloon was lodged in his windpipe, which caused his death. Chapman recalled she left an old packet of balloon near the infant.

"Once I got told it was a balloon I was obviously shocked and blamed myself they were there," Chapman said. "But in saying that, I know everything is a chocking hazard when you have a baby."

Chapman told 7 the loss hit her hard the next morning when the couple had to kiss their son goodbye.

"He was motionless and not how I ever expected to see my son," the grieving mother said. "We weren’t allowed to pick him up and cuddle him. I just wanted him to wake so I could take him home."

Helium Balloons
Representational image Reuters