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Cot death grief: Natalie Spicer and Luke Coyle in first aid plea after son's tragic death

A grieving mum and dad have recounted the heartbreaking chain of events after finding their baby lifeless in his cot.

Natalie Spicer and Luke Coyle battled in vain to revive three-month-old son Harvey as 999 operators gave CPR advice on the phone.

Paramedics arrived minutes later at their Canterbury home but delivered the devastating news that their fit and healthy baby was dead.

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Natalie Spicer with son Harvey Coyle the day before he died
Natalie Spicer with son Harvey Coyle the day before he died

The couple are now campaigning for changes in the law to see basic first aid procedures taught to all new parents.

Baby Harvey’s death remains a mystery and is being treated as a case of sudden infant death syndrome (Sids).

But Miss Spicer and Mr Coyle, who also have a 19-month-old daughter, Alysia, were initially treated as suspects.

Officers quizzed them in hospital as their son lay dead in another room, while police specialists were also called in to check Alysia for signs of mistreatment.

The couple even had little Harvey christened in the hospital chapel as officers stood alongside.

Miss Spicer, 23, said: “We felt like we were in a bubble – we still do. It all happened so fast, we were shell-shocked.

Harvey Coyle died in his sleep
Harvey Coyle died in his sleep

“He was a perfectly normal boy, perfectly healthy. He could sit up. He could smile. He was developing a little personality.

“We had been following all the advice the midwives gave us. We put him to bed lying on his back and so on.”

On May 3 the couple noticed Harvey had not wanted to feed as usual in the late hours.

At about 3am Mr Coyle woke and checked on his son.

The 21-year-old landscape gardener said: “I picked him up in my arms and it was then that I knew something was wrong.

“I rocked him in my arms. Usually he would wake or at least stir. But he looked lifeless. I instantly checked for a pulse. I couldn’t feel anything.”

Miss Spicer continued: “I woke to hear Luke shouting, ‘He isn’t breathing!’

“I rang 999, knowing something was seriously wrong, but still not wanting to believe it.

“They said put him on a hard surface, so we laid him on the bedroom floor. They said tilt his head upwards, then cover his mouth and nose with your mouth and breath.

“You’re meant to put three fingers on the chest and push. They were saying if you break the ribs don’t worry.

Smiling Harvey Coyle tragically died
Smiling Harvey Coyle tragically died

“It was terrifying. I didn’t know any of this. I was panicking. Adrenaline was going.”

Mr Coyle added: “You have no idea if you’re doing it right.

“They told us to look for signs his chest was rising but you don’t know how much pressure to apply or what exactly you’re looking for.”

Despite further attempts at life-saving by paramedics, who arrived at their home in Lancaster Road shortly after, Harvey could not be revived.

They followed the ambulance to hospital, where police took statements.

“I can’t really describe that because we were just in shock,” said Miss Spicer.

“The hardest thing was having the police follow us everywhere at the hospital. I know they have to investigate, and I know there are some bad people out there, but we weren’t able to have a private moment.

“They were there when we had him christened. I understand but it was incredibly hard, nonetheless.”

On May 4 they went home, leaving their son at the hospital. Police told them they were taking no further action.

Miss Spicer said: “They said it could take six months for us to find out what happened to Harvey.

“I was on the phone to the coroner’s office every day.

“They say they may never know. They’ve taken various tests. It’s been put down as Sids.

“But our concern is obviously for Alysia. Is there something there that we don’t know about?

“It has implications if we try for a brother or sister for Alysia too. It could have implications for grandchildren.”

Little Harvey’s body was finally released after several weeks and a funeral was held earlier this month.

Mr Coyle, who was able to see the body and say a final, private, goodbye, said: “It’s something that we’ll never quite come to terms with. It will stay with us.”

Little Harvey’s tragic death has prompted his parents to campaign.

Miss Spicer and Mr Coyle would like to see basic first aid taught to all new parents.

Miss Spicer said: “Everyone needs to learn this. If you foster or adopt children you need first aid training.

"They teach you how to breastfeed, how to put the child safely to bed. Why not spend five minutes teaching first aid?” - Natalie Spicer

“They give you ante-natal classes. Why not teach this too? They teach you how to breastfeed, how to put the child safely to bed. Why not spend five minutes teaching first aid?”

Mr Coyle said: “We’ll never know if that knowledge could have made a difference.

“It seemed like hours between us finding Harvey like that and the ambulance arriving.

“In reality it was only a few minutes but every second counts. Surely it’s a good thing if new parents have that knowledge? I wish I’d had it.

“We might have been able to do something instantly that made all the difference. Who knows?”

Marita Edwards, St John Ambulance’s schools and community first aid training co-ordinator, says first aid is a simple skill to learn but it can have “an incredible impact”.

“Our advice to any parent, grandparent or carer is to learn these skills so you have the confidence to use them should you need to,” he said.


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