The Associated Press

2 Franklin Children Die After Being Trapped In Hope Chest

The Franklin home where authorities say a brother and sister under age 10 died after apparently getting trapped inside a hope chest (Steven Senne/AP)

The Franklin home where authorities say a brother and sister under age 10 died after apparently getting trapped inside a hope chest (Steven Senne/AP)

FRANKLIN, Mass. — A brother and sister under age 10 apparently got trapped inside a chest in their Massachusetts home and died, authorities said Monday.

Police responded to the Franklin home at about 8 p.m. Sunday after family members found the children together inside the hope chest, which had a lid that could only be opened from the outside. The children were taken to hospitals but did not survive.

David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, confirmed the deaths. He said multiple family members, including an adult, were in the house at the time. He would not say whether the adult was a parent of the children.

The chest was close to a television that had the volume turned up, Traub said.

Authorities said the deaths appear to be accidental, and relatives are cooperating with investigators.

Traub said the hope chest was “an older type” made by Lane Furniture and was purchased by the family secondhand more than a decade ago.

In 1996, Lane recalled 12 million cedar chests with lids that automatically latch shut after receiving reports of six children suffocating inside. In 2000, Lane — in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission — said it was calling for a renewed search for the chests to replace their locks after becoming aware of another suffocation death and two near fatalities.

Traub said it was not immediately clear if the chest owned by the family was included in that recall. The recall covered all Lane and Virginia Maid brand cedar chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987.

Messages left at the headquarters of Heritage Home Group, which now owns Lane, were not immediately returned Monday.

A message on Lane’s website says it has provided new locks free of charge that don’t automatically latch when the lid is closed. The company said chests made after 1987 have the new safety locks.

Autopsies were scheduled, and the results will show “if the medical information corresponds with the narrative as it’s emerged,” Traub said.

No names were released.

No one appeared to be inside the family’s ranch-style home Monday morning. Several children’s bicycles were scattered in the backyard, along with a boy’s truck and a plastic sled. Two bouquets of flowers and two stuffed animals — a white kitten and a brown dog — had been left on the front steps.

Both children attended an elementary school in town. School officials informed parents of the children’s deaths and said counselors are available to students and staff.

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  • Citizen James

    What a horrific tragedy. I feel so sorry for the two children.

  • dust truck

    how long must you be trapped in a hope chest before you die? Seems to me like there’s more than just merely the loud television going on here.

    • Mark

      Seems that you were quick to lay blame on the father for this, until you found out more info. Perhaps people should learn to keep to themselves *until* they get all the info. I’m not slamming you personally (honest), but it drives me crazy that whenever something like this happens everyone has an idea as to why and wants to point fingers. No one ever gets the benefit of the doubt unless it’s proven. It’s a sad state of affairs.

      • dust truck

        So? The story broke and was updated an hour later. Comment sections are for commenting on the story as it currently exists.

        At the time I just didn’t want to believe that a hope chest could be that dangerous, but considering it was 70 years old, I guess it’s no surprise.

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