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Pellet kills boy

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"It is mind-boggling that something so small could cause the death of my child"

Aiden Oliphant

A ROODEPAN family not only has to deal with the loss of their nine-year-old son and grandson but they also have to quash rumours surrounding the incident.

Nine-year-old Aiden “Aidy” Oliphant died in a freak accident last week after he was hit by a pellet from a pellet gun that his older brother was playing with.

Aiden’s mother, Ozelthia Doyle, said yesterday that while she is trying to deal with the heartbreak of losing her child, people are spreading rumours about how the incident occurred and this causes her more pain.

“There are so many stories about the circumstances of the matter making the rounds in the community. The painful part is that these rumours are adding to the pain we are suffering,” said Doyle.

“This incident is tough for my entire family. My older son blames himself for the incident as he was playing with the pellet gun. He feels that if he had not played with the toy his brother would still be alive and we would not be in this situation now. I have to literally remind him every day that he is not to blame for the incident. He hears me but I can see that he is not taking my words to heart. He did not even want to attend the memorial service as he feels that it is all his fault. This is something he has to live with for the rest of his life.

“My husband also blames himself for leaving the kids to play for a few minutes. He feels like he should have been more vigilant. However, the children were playing with a toy and we never imagined something like this would happen. It was a toy which we bought. We are all in pain and people pointing fingers at my family is not bringing any ease to the matter.”

Doyle said that while she mourns Aiden, she also has to support her eldest son.

“I have to arrange the burial of my son but also need to be strong for my older son. My older son was always the protector of his little brother and they were very close. It is heartbreaking that my older son now not only has to deal with the loss of his younger brother but also has to work through the trauma of the incident.

“I will support him and do not blame him for the incident. Jayden is an awesome child and I know my boys loved each other deeply. It was never my child’s intention for the incident to unfold like this. This was truly a freak accident.”

The children’s grandmother, Lucia Oliphant, said that the incident did not seem like an emergency initially.

“The children were playing outside and Jayden was shooting with the pellet gun. Aiden was also playing in the yard and came running around the corner. One of the pellets hit Aiden and he fell. Jayden thought he was playing and walked over to him telling him to get up. Jayden saw that his brother was not getting up and he saw some blood. He screamed and carried his brother to the neighbours.

“The neighbours called the ambulance, but they decided to take him to the hospital when the ambulance did not show up. There was a provincial ambulance driving by and they stopped it. The ambulance loaded Aiden and I went inside the ambulance and held his hand. He was lying on his left side and had a little plaster on the wound. The paramedic was standing by the ambulance and making notes. I held his hand and said a prayer. He was not crying but I held his hand as he was facing away from me.

“The next moment he turned and said ‘mommy’ to me and the paramedic pushed him to his side. The manner in which he called me gave me the impression that something was wrong. The next moment the paramedic started resuscitating him and they sped off to the hospital,” said Oliphant.

She said Aiden was rushed in to theatre when they arrived at the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital.

“I had to sign consent for Aiden to be operated on They explained that they had to see where the pellet was and immediately rushed him to the theatre where he was operated on. The medical staff later informed us that he had died.”

Oliphant said that the pathologist had explained that the pellet penetrated Aiden’s right side and “touched his heart which resulted in an explosion of his organs”.

“There was a little hole where the pellet went through. Aiden did not bleed much. The pathologist explained that he suffered internal bleeding which was the reason why he did not bleed on the outside. It is mind-boggling that something so small could cause the death of my child,” she said.

Doyle said that she was a patient at Mediclinic Gariep when she was informed about her son’s death.

“I was admitted to hospital and even told my mother to bring Aiden to the Gariep hospital when I called her to find out what had happened. My neighbour had informed me that the boys were playing and the younger one was hit by a pellet. I called my mother and she at first told me that she could not talk to me. I called her again and said she must ask for my son to be transferred to Gariep hospital. I called a third time and she told me that the child was in theatre. I called again but could not get my mother.

“I asked the matron at Gariep to call my mother and she spoke to the doctor. When I spoke to my mother she told me that they were on their way to me. I asked her if Aiden was with her. She just said they were on their way to see me.”

Doyle said she could see from her husband’s face that her son was dead. “My husband just said he was sorry and I broke down it felt like a dream.”

Doyle added that the incident is still surreal. “I have been dealing with the funeral preparations and it only hit me during the memorial service that Roodepan Primary school, where my child was attending, organised, that my son is gone. The pupils in his class made a roll-call during the memorial and when they called out his name it kicked in that this is real,” she said.

The funeral will take place on Saturday.