Ashim Gurung’s parents were only out of the room for a few minutes.
As The Sun reports, the 5-year-old from Whitehall, Pennsylvania was playing at home on Sunday when his parents left the room five to ten minutes to get him some food. They say their son was only out of view for a few moments, but they came back to a horrifying scene.
Gurung was sprawled next to the treadmill, covered in blood. It appeared that he had been playing near the moving treadmill and had dropped a toy. While trying to retrieve it, he’d gotten caught in the machine and died.
The young boy’s death was ruled an accident, caused by compression of the neck. Lt. Andrew Schurman of the Alleghany County Police told KDKA: “The 5-year-old was somehow trapped by the treadmill, and it was running at the time. So we have the treadmill here and we’re going to see what we can find out about it and how it works and if it failed.”
Gurung’s family was too distraught to speak to the media. A neighbor told WPXI that Gurung was, “just nice little boy. They all come to congregate in the one backyard and they all are on the trampoline. Always very respectful.”
Treadmills may seem like a common and safe piece of home exercise equipment, but they can be more dangerous than parents realize. Pediatrician Dr. Joe Aracri told KDKA: “In general, 25,000 kids each year are hurt on exercise equipment alone, of which 2,600 kids on average end up in the emergency room from treadmill accidents.”
Fitness expert Ed Trainor pointed out to CBS News that treadmills require, “focus and responsibility,” because, “a moving belt is like falling off a bicycle at 10 miles an hour.”
For treadmill users, safety means avoiding distractions and being careful around the moving belt. However, when it comes to children and treadmills, the best thing to do is keep kids far away from the machine.
Children are vulnerable to falls and abrasions from the belt, getting caught in the moving parts, and even asphyxiation from the wires and cords. Consumer Reports recommends keeping children far away from treadmills at all times — especially those under age 6.
Be sure to monitor children around treadmills or any exercise equipment. And remove the safety key as an extra level of protection. Aracri advised, “Make sure that the safeties are on on the equipment so the kids can’t accidentally or inadvertently use them.”