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News Every Day |

Brother of nine-month-old baby who choked to death almost dies same way

Baby Oliver
Oliver had a heart attack after choking at nursery(Picture: Triangle News)

Parents whose baby died after pasta blocked his airway at nursery have revealed they almost lost their second son to choking too.

Lewis and Zoe Steeper’s nine-month-old son Oliver died in September 2021, after he choked at Jelly Beans Day Nursery in Ashford, Kent.

The baby was eating food when he began to struggle to breathe. Although he was taken to hospital, he died six days later of a heart attack at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

The Steeper family have now shared that they almost lost their second son, Jake, in the same devastating way.

Thankfully, they used a device that saved his life – which they had previously been campaigning to make available in nurseries.

Mr Steeper used a LifeVac when Jake began choking, which is a gadget that clears users’ airways using suction to remove the obstruction.

Lewis had to use it when Jake stopped breathing in December 2023 after he woke up with a fever and throat blocked with mucus and Calpol.

‘It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life, I just kept saying “I can’t lose another child,’ Lewis told The Sun.

Oliver Steeper surrounded by tubes at the Evelina London Children???s Hospital before he died TRIANGLE NEWS 0208 629 3622 // news@trianglenews.co.uk By Emily Hall Pics THE devastated parents of a baby who died after choking at nursery say they are determined to appeal a decision not to bring criminal charges in the case. Zoe and Lewis Steeper???s nine-month-old baby Oliver died six days after he choked at Jelly Beans Day Nursery in September 2021. But the couple have now been told that the CPS has decided not to bring charges and Kent Police have also shelved their investigation. *TRIANGLE NEWS DOES NOT CLAIM ANY COPYRIGHT OR LICENSE IN THE ATTACHED MATERIAL. ANY DOWNLOADING FEES CHARGED BY TRIANGLE NEWS ARE FOR TRIANGLE NEWS SERVICES ONLY, AND DO NOT, NOR ARE THEY INTENDED TO, CONVEY TO THE USER ANY COPYRIGHT OR LICENSE IN THE MATERIAL. BY PUBLISHING THIS MATERIAL , THE USER EXPRESSLY AGREES TO INDEMNIFY AND TO HOLD TRIANGLE NEWS HARMLESS FROM ANY CLAIMS, DEMANDS, OR CAUSES OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF OR CONNECTED IN ANY WAY WITH USER'S PUBLICATION OF THE MATERIAL*
Oliver tragically died at Evelina London Children’s Hospital (Picture: Lewis Steeper/Triangle News)

Jake turned grey and began to fit uncontrollably, but his parents were able to clear the blockage by using the LifeVac to open his airway.

The 14-month-old was then checked by medics who said he had Covid-19, and he made a full recovery.

To use the anti-choking device, a mask is placed over the mouth with a suction handle to exert force to try and pull out the blockage.

They were approved for sale in the UK last year, but the government warned people to check they are buying from a reputable seller as they estimate around 10,000 potentially unsafe counterfeit or unbranded devices have already been bought.

After Oliver’s death, the parents set up the Oliver Steeper Foundation, and have raised almost £20,000 to fund LifeVacs for nurseries, providing over 100 of these since Oliver’s death.

It comes after Jelly Beans Day Nursery was permanently closed following Oliver’s death, after inspectors Ofsted suspended its registration.

An inquest into Oliver’s death gave his cause of death as a brain injury and heart attack, but was put on hold.

The Steepers were told the CPS are not bringing charges, and Kent Police will not continue with the investigation into Oliver’s death.

In a statement shared on their website, they have said they are working to overturn the decision and would appeal.

Zoe and Lewis Steeper with their son Oliver before he died TRIANGLE NEWS 0208 629 3622 // news@trianglenews.co.uk By Emily Hall Pics THE devastated parents of a baby who died after choking at nursery say they are determined to appeal a decision not to bring criminal charges in the case. Zoe and Lewis Steeper???s nine-month-old baby Oliver died six days after he choked at Jelly Beans Day Nursery in September 2021. But the couple have now been told that the CPS has decided not to bring charges and Kent Police have also shelved their investigation. *TRIANGLE NEWS DOES NOT CLAIM ANY COPYRIGHT OR LICENSE IN THE ATTACHED MATERIAL. ANY DOWNLOADING FEES CHARGED BY TRIANGLE NEWS ARE FOR TRIANGLE NEWS SERVICES ONLY, AND DO NOT, NOR ARE THEY INTENDED TO, CONVEY TO THE USER ANY COPYRIGHT OR LICENSE IN THE MATERIAL. BY PUBLISHING THIS MATERIAL , THE USER EXPRESSLY AGREES TO INDEMNIFY AND TO HOLD TRIANGLE NEWS HARMLESS FROM ANY CLAIMS, DEMANDS, OR CAUSES OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF OR CONNECTED IN ANY WAY WITH USER'S PUBLICATION OF THE MATERIAL*
‘It’s a strange feeling, knowing the new baby will probably look and sound the same as Oli,’ said dad Lewis (Picture: Lewis Steeper/Triangle News)

As well as fundraising to provide life vacs at nurseries, the Steepers have collected more than 100,000 signatures as they have campaigned against government suggestions to decrease the ratio of nursery carers to children to make childcare cheaper.

‘It poses a massive safeguarding risk on children and puts them at significant risk,’ Lewis said.

‘We need eyes on children from nine months onwards to two years.’

He added: ‘I just wish that the government would come and spend a day in a nursery and see how people who work in these settings actually deal with these children.

‘They are underpaid, overworked, and they have been abandoned by the government for years.’

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: ‘The safety of children will always be our utmost priority.

‘The proposed changes to ratios support nurseries by giving them flexibility, but providers are free to staff above these minimum requirements if that is their preference.

‘To keep our youngest children as safe as possible, we are updating the EYFS framework to increase food safety and help prevent choking incidences in early years settings.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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