Loss of son triggers new law

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
Skye Quartermine and a photo of her son Reef Kite who was killed when a chest of drawers fell on top of him in 2015.
Camera IconSkye Quartermine and a photo of her son Reef Kite who was killed when a chest of drawers fell on top of him in 2015. Credit: Zoe Keenan

The mother of 21-month-old Reef Kite, who tragically died when a chest of drawers fell on him in 2015, says no parent will suffer the way she has after new legislation passed this month.

Amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act means landlords must allow tenants, who submit a request, to attach furniture to a wall to prevent a child or person with a disability being hurt or killed.

The laws passed the day after the four-year anniversary of Reef’s death at their former home in Yokine.

It was 11am on October 13 in 2015 when Skye Quartermaine, who now lives in Bunbury, put a 21-month-old Reef down for his usual nap.

She checked on him once at about midday and again between one and two, but still fast asleep, Ms Quartermaine decided to nap with her two eldest boys.

“I woke up suddenly about 3pm when Reef is usually awake. I opened his door and the first thing I see was him pinned underneath the chest of drawers,” she said.

What happened next was a blur and Ms Quartermaine said all she remembered was running down the driveway with her son in her arms screaming for help.

Reef was rushed to the hospital but efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful and Ms Quartermaine had to make the devastating decision to tell doctors to stop. She kissed him one last time that night.

“It’s indescribable... it’s like a craving and you’re never able to satisfy it,” she said.

“No matter how many hugs I give my other children I still have a horrible, primal, unattainable need to hug him and it’s torture.

“The weight of the pain I bear on my shoulders is exhausting I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

“It feels wrong I outlived my son, he should’ve watched me pass away first, it’s unfair.”

An inquest into Reef’s death found the furniture had not been secured to the wall because permission was not granted.

Ever since his death Ms Quartermaine has been fighting to change the laws to allow renters to secure furniture to walls and said the news on Monday was healing.

“His death is no longer in vain, deaths like his are now preventable and protected by law,” she said.

“No other parent has to feel the way I do every morning when I wake up and go to bed.”

But it is not the end of the journey for Ms Quartermaine who is continuing her fight to warn parents of toppling furniture.

She plans to take her proposal to the Council of Australian Governments to implement the laws in every State in Australia.

In a media statement, Minister for Commerce John Quigley said toppling furniture had resulted in the deaths of at least 22 young children across Australia.

“The simple action of anchoring furniture can save the life of a child.”

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