Our daughter Hannah Turberville died suddenly on February 17th 2007 aged just 7 years old.
Her death was made even more dramatic by the fact we were on holiday as a family, in France, due to return to England the following morning.
We were skiing with Lucy, Hannah’s non-identical twin sister, and Oliver, her 8 year old brother. We had a fantastic week skiing as a family of 5 and one which we will never forget. We were self-catering and had gone out for dinner on the Friday evening and had a lovely meal. Hannah had eaten pizza and then ice cream one of her favourite meals.
We had talked about the holiday – the best bits and the not so good bits. The children talked about the medals they had been given that evening by their ski instructor. We left the restaurant about 8pm and walked back up the icy path to our apartment. Hannah was sick, but she had eaten rather a lot of ice cream! We did our final packing, brought the suitcases
downstairs and the children went to bed.
I was reading in bed, and then dozing off when I heard a funny noise. I thought Hannah was just coughing, so left her. Then heard another noise where I thought she was perhaps being sick again. I got up, went beside her bed and it was clear she had not been sick. I looked again and something in me realised she was not breathing.
I shouted for her father, Chris, and dragged her out of bed, got her on the floor and assumed she must have been choking on vomit, so started to try and clear her airway and did the Heimlich manoeuvre. Nothing came up so we started CPR. Chris went and got the mobile, dialled all the numbers we could think of for emergencies (999, 111, etc) with no answers. We carried Hannah out to the corridor and carried on with CPR whilst banging on all the apartment doors so that someone would answer and could ring the emergency services.
Eventually we got somebody and they dialled 112. As we were up the mountain in February they were a long time coming. Chris and I carried on CPR, moved Hannah out onto the balcony where it was colder as we believed she may last longer without breathing the colder she was.
The pompiers (firemen) then arrived with a paramedic and the local GP and then more medics from the hospital in the valley. They tried to defibrillate her and put drugs in to her but all to no avail. We think there were at least 10 men in our tiny apartment full of suitcases and our other 2 sleeping children. Our daughter was certified dead on Saturday 17th February 2007.
Her body came back to England a week later and Mary Sheppard carried out her autopsy at The Brompton Hospital to find no reason for her death beyond a sudden electrical imbalance causing ventricular arrhythmia. This can be almost impossible to resuscitate and Hannah would have been blissfully unaware of the proceedings.
Hannah had been an active 7 year old, going to Brownies, learning piano, enjoying school, reading Roald Dahl, playing football and being part of the Hannah, Lucy and Oliver team. She loved skiing and was good at it. She died in a beautiful village up in the mountains having had a wonderful holiday doing lots of wonderful things. We have many happy memories.
Ten months on and we have had a birthday for Lucy, got ourselves a beautiful puppy, have plans for Christmas and are still surrounded by the loving support of our family and friends.
We are truly grateful to CRY for being there and helping us to understand that there are many families who suffer sudden deaths. We plan to raise more money and improve awareness for CRY. This should help fund research to help understand more about sudden deaths.
Katy & Chris Turberville