The death of an Invercargill toddler who was trampled by a
cow has led to a warning for parents to constantly supervise
their young children.
Jack Xavier Tatham was almost 2 years old when he died in his
parents' arms in Dunedin Hospital the day after a cow stood
on his head at his parents' Waimatua farm near Invercargill
in August last year.
Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar found neither jack's
parents nor the doctors who tried to save him were to blame
for the youngster's death from irreversible brain swelling
Parents Jimmy and Kerry Tatham had taken Jack with them to
the milking shed - something they did not usually do.
Jack, who was described as an active boy who could run and
climb over gates, played in a puddle while his parents
attended to some newly arrived cows in a pen next to the
They then placed him in an enclosed room in the shed so he
would be safe while they went about other tasks. He was was
not far off and could hear Jack "nattering" to himself, but
when he returned he found the room empty, Mr Tatham said.
He saw the cows were "spooked" and found his son lying on the
concrete pad inside the fence with the cows.
Jack was unresponsive and clearly suffering from a head
injury with swelling to his left eye.
An ambulance took Jack to Invercargill Hospital before he was
transferred to the neurology ward at Dunedin Hospital. A
doctor found his head had suffered a triangular bruise from a
hoof print, grazes from the concrete, and skull fractures
from compression between the hoof and concrete.
A neurosurgeon attempted to ease the swelling on his brain,
but the procedure was abandoned due to complications.
Doctors concluded Jack could not survive his injuries and he
died in his parents' arms the following day, August 24.
A pathologist found Jack was a well-nourished toddler with no
evidence of any injuries other than the irreversible cranial
swelling that caused his death.
While the parents were remiss for not actively supervising
Jack the whole time, they had left him in a room where they
knew he would be safe and were only seconds away from being
able to stop him from entering the yard, Mr Crerar said.
"The tragic circumstances of the death do, however, serve as
a lesson to all who have custody of vulnerable infants. A
child who is unable to perform his, or her, own risk
assessment needs to be constantly supervised by a responsible
adult to ensure that no harm is created to them."
Mr Crerar recommended a copy of his findings be sent to
Federated Farmers, requesting "appropriate publicity" to
emphasise to its members the need to take all appropriate
care when supervising children and infants in a farm