A grieving mother has spoken about how her four-year-old daughter died after a tree climbing accident.
Elise Thorpe, 29, has talked for the first time about the death of her daughter, Freya, in September 2019.
She died just 10 days after becoming a big sister to twins.
The four-year-old was climbing a tree near the family’s home in Upper Hayford near Bicester, Oxfordshire, while wearing a cycling helmet.
An inquest into her death in January 2020 ruled that she “potentially slipped” and her helmet caught on a branch, causing the helmet strap to become “tight against her throat”. She died in hospital two days later.
“It was a normal Sunday – we were on cloud nine after the long-awaited arrival and difficult pregnancy of my twins Kiera and Zack,” said Ms Thorpe.
"A brother and sister that Freya had awaited so patiently for nine long and difficult months to become a big sister.
“In the early afternoon, Daddy had to go off to collect the special milk from Boots pharmacy in Cowley for the twins, as they were allergic to cow's milk.”
Ms Thorpe, a social worker, said Freya had been invited to a house a “10-second” walk away for a playdate.
She said the “quiet cul-de-sac” was full of “lots of parents” who “confidently let their children out to play”.
However, Freya had left the friend’s house without Ms Thorpe’s knowledge.
“I had a gut feeling I wanted her home,” she said. “Shortly after, I saw an ambulance at the end of the road – I panicked, at the time not knowing why I was panicking.
"I called my husband to say I was going to get her back from the house behind. He said, ‘No, I’m five minutes away, stay with the babies’.
"I saw his car go past and not return from the little cul-de-sac, I knew something was wrong.”
Ms Thorpe said her husband, Chris, returned, running back with a firefighter. She grabbed her twins and ran – despite undergoing a caesarean section days earlier – to an area where Freya was being treated by emergency workers.
Freya spent two days in intensive care at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, but doctors told the family she couldn’t be saved.
Ms Thorpe said: “I never stepped foot inside my home again. This is something I also lost and miss to this day… my home.
“Had I not given birth only 10 days before we would have taken our lives in the hospital that night, without a shadow of a doubt.”
She thanked those who had supported the family – including people they had never met – during the past 18 months.
However, she said: “But we’ve also experienced scrutiny and abuse from people who’ve asked, ‘Where were the parents?’ ‘How could they let her out alone?’
“It has caused family rifts from relatives and judgment all because people didn’t know Freya wasn’t in our care when this happened.”
Ms Thorpe said: “The pain is immense. The shock still as raw. I miss my home so much but I miss my baby girl like you can never imagine.
“We lived out of suitcases until we could find accommodation and still awaiting to find what feels right… but that’s just it… nothing does.”
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