Childrens Health

Strangulation Horror: Parents’ Heartbreaking Warning after Toddler Becomes Tangled in Backpack Strap


Trigger warning: Strangulation discussed.

One of the things 14-month-old Mia’s mum and dad loved most about their Mia was her infectious laugh. She was loud and loved to let out little screams throughout the day. So when she went quiet while she was playing in another room, her parents thought something could be wrong.

Heartbreaking, something was terribly, heartbreakingly wrong.

Despite only being in the other room from her mum, Hannah and dad, Connor for a few minutes, the little girl had managed to get herself tangled in a small handbag-style rucksack with thin straps, which had been hanging on the handle of the door.

The small backpack was strangling her and, when her dad discovered her, she was already unconscious.

“When she went quiet, we knew something was wrong,” Hannah and Connor Macphee shared with Press and Journal.

“Connor went to see. As he untangled her, he screamed for me. I grabbed her and took her to the kitchen floor where I started doing CPR. Connor rang 999.”

toddler dies due to becoming tangled in handbag strangulation
Mia with her mum and dad. Source: GoFundMe

In what they describe as a blur of activity their neighbours arrived, followed by police and the air ambulance.

“She was without oxygen for a very long time. It took 30-45 minutes for her heart to start beating again.”

‘I could feel her slipping away’ 

The little girl, who lived in Scotland, was rushed to hospital and was placed on a ventilator. For four days Hannah and Connor remained by their daughter’s bedside, watching her vitals and hoping she would be okay.

“We had the best part of four days with her there and we are so thankful for that. Our family were able to come and see her too.” 

Tragically, on the fourth day, Mia’s vitals started to change and she became “distressed”.

All her vitals were changing and we knew we didn’t have much time. She came off her ventilator at 2.10pm. Connor and I lay in bed with her. I had my hand on her chest and could feel her slipping away. Her heart stopped beating at 2.35pm,” Hannah said.

“We fell asleep with her between us. That was the last proper time we had with our little girl.”

‘You never think it will happen to you’ 

The devastated parents have shared Mia’s tragic story in the hopes that it will remind parents to be attentive of the dangers, even simple household items can pose.

Mia, who had two big brothers, Alex, 13, and Jacob, 8, was also due to become a big sister in August. She loved strawberries and rides in her pink Mini car, her heartbroken parents shared.

“We are devastated. It feels like we are telling a story that we know all the words to but it surely can’t be about us.

We can’t stress this enough to anyone reading this: We didn’t even give a bag hanging on a door a second thought,” Hannah said. “You never think it will happen to you. We’re sharing this with you so it never has to happen to anyone else again.”

“Mia was always a happy child, always smiling and laughing. She had an amazing personality. We were so lucky to have had her in our lives. We’ll never forget you Mia Moo,” Connor added.

A celebration of Mia’s life will take place today. Our hearts break for Connor, Hannah, Jacob, Alex and friends and family of little Mia.

It takes just 10 seconds 

Strangulation is a lot more common than you may think and there are so many hazards most of us wouldn’t even think about, from curtains to handbags, from teething necklaces to toys with strings, or even scarves hanging on a clothesline.

Child safety expert Dani Morin shared her own thoughts on the matter on TikTok. Sadly, Dani has also lost a child to strangulation.

“I would almost guarantee if you looked around your house right now you probably have a purse or backpack hanging from a door handle or a chair or something of that nature. 

This is just one of those things we don’t think about often. It takes 10 seconds for (a child) to strangle, to be unconscious, and then it takes another couple minutes for them to go brain dead.”

According to Raising Children, there are several items around the home that could potentially cause strangulation.

This includes:

  • Blinds, cords, ropes and hanging mobiles
  • Certain toys with strings
  • Dummy cords, chains or strings
  • Cords and drawstrings on clothing, especially hoodies and jackets
  • Scarves and ties
  • Rope swings at a playground

For more information, please visit Raising Children.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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