LEBANON, Ohio - A 5-year-old Ohio boy with cerebral palsy became wedged between furniture and suffocated to death while playing at his home with his twin brother, who also has cerebral palsy and couldn't free him, authorities said Wednesday.
Christian Shelton died Monday after he got stuck between a couch and a chair that had been pushed into a reclining position.
Griffin Shelton tried to save his brother but couldn't get the chair he was in to go forward to get out of it, Ron Robertson, an investigator with the Warren County Coroner's Office confirmed Wednesday.
The boy's father, Matt Shelton, found the boys almost immediately afterward and tried to resuscitate his son while also calling 911, but the boy was pronounced dead at a hospital, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
"It's actually just a terrible tragedy," Robertson said.
The frame of the recliner had covered part of the boy's neck and chest, apparently making it impossible for him to breathe, Robertson said.
The cause of death was ruled "accidental compression asphyxiation," which Robertson said meant that the boy suffocated at their Hamilton Township home in southwest Ohio's Warren County.
Christian Shelton was not as mobile as his brother, who can use a walker. Christian had apparently rolled or scooted to become wedged between the furniture, Robertson said.
Family members said they had considered the boys "miracle babies" because they were survived the odds after being born at 23 weeks and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, according to the newspaper.
The boys were best friends who loved playing together and loved each other very much, said their aunt, Jackie Kneipp, of Maineville.
Kneipp spoke to the newspaper Tuesday on the family's behalf, saying the Sheltons were in shock.
The boys' mother was at work when the accident occurred.
Kneipp said Christian Shelton had just gotten a new wheelchair and could sit up and be more a part of activities.
"He didn't have to sit in a stroller, and we could take him out places," she said, adding that he loved to go out.
"Christian just had the most incredible smile that could melt everybody's heart," Kneipp said.
She said Griffin Shelton knows his brother is gone but the family had yet to explain exactly what happened.
He's been told his brother is in heaven with their dog that died a couple of years ago, Kneipp said.