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Boy, 8, dies after getting wedged between washer and dryer while playing hide-and-seek

Authorities believe Wrangler Hendrix died from positional asphyxiation.
Washer and Dryer
Wrangler Hendrix, 8, died after getting stuck between a washing machine and a dryer while playing a game.Owaki/Kulla / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

An 8-year-old boy from Texas died on June 10 after getting stuck between a washing machine and a dryer while playing hide-and-seek.

Wrangler Hendrix was discovered “wedged between” the two appliances, authorities told People. A family member began performing CPR, but when paramedics arrived, the little boy was found “unresponsive.”

Hendrix, who was visiting relatives in Coolidge, Georgia, was rushed to a local hospital. After “approximately one hour of resuscitation attempts,” he was pronounced dead, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Tim Watkins said. 

Law enforcement officials suspect Hendrix died from positional asphyxiation, which is when a person can’t get enough oxygen to breathe due to the positioning of their body. An autopsy is pending. 

Positional asphyxiation is extremely rare, according to Dr. Kira Sieplinga, a pediatric hospitalist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“You breathe in oxygen, and you breathe out carbon dioxide,” Dr. Sieplinga told TODAY Parents. “With positional asphyxiation, you’re having trouble breathing out. And if you can’t breathe out, carbon dioxide gets trapped in your body, and there’s no way for the air that has oxygen to come in.”

To minimize the risk of positional asphyxiation, Sieplinga recommends that parents and caregivers teach their children about safe places to hide. Cars and bodies of water should always be off-limits, Sieplinga said. 

Infants are particularly vulnerable to asphyxiation, Sieplinga noted.

“That’s why you want a car seat to be set at that 45 degree angle,” she explained. “If you’re too upright, your baby’s head can become hyper flexed, which can cut off oxygen.” 

According to a study that looked at the hazards of children two years old and younger in “sitting and carrying devices,” 48 percent of the car seat deaths from 2004 to 2008 were from positional asphyxia.

But Sieplinga stressed the fact that positional asphyxiation is very uncommon.

“Read labels on products — whether it’s a baby sling or a car seat,” she said. “The labels are there because something has happened. If you use reasonable precautions, everything should be OK.” 

Hendrix's school bus driver, Judith Engleman, described the second-grader as a "sweetheart" in an online tribute.

"He was so well-mannered and took care of his sister," Engleman wrote. "They were so excited about their trip and the beach. We joked about wearing lots of sunscreen as they got off the bus. Rest in heavenly peace, Wrangler."

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