The heartbroken parents of a two-month-old boy who suffocated after his dad fell asleep with him on his chest have shared their anguish in a bid to warn others of the dangers of co-sleeping.
Tragic Lucas John Martino died after falling between his dad’s arm and the sofa after the exhausted new parents fell asleep following a ‘perfect day’ spent as a family on November 26 last year.
Mum Haley Gavrilis, 20, woke up to find Lucas’s dad Carmine Martino, 20, asleep on the sofa and assumed Lucas was in his basket – but she started to panic when she couldn't find him and woke Carmine up.
The pair then discovered Lucas’s lifeless body on the sofa in the early hours of November 27 and despite Carmine's frantic efforts to revive him the tot was confirmed dead by paramedics.
The parents, who split a month after Lucas’s death, said they are haunted by what happened and are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
‘There was a lot of blame obviously – of course I blamed myself,’ Carmine from North Carolina, US, said. ‘Being a father – it’s my job to protect my family, my son and my girlfriend and I failed them. I was extremely angry with myself.
‘The biggest thing was disappointment with letting my son down and my girlfriend down and all of our families. Everybody loved that little boy.
‘I’m trying to make progress every day. There’s no way to live with something like this and the images of performing CPR on him will haunt me forever.
College student Haley said she’d also been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety – and still has panic attacks.
She said she had been put on medication but that numbed her so much that she felt she wasn’t grieving properly.
‘I’m thinking about Lucas a lot and I’m crying about ten times a day,’ the mum said. ‘I have depression and anxiety but I feel the death of my son and I know I have to deal with it.
‘I’m still going through the grieving process and every day is getting worse. I have trouble sleeping, I run over the details of the night. My friends and family tell me it’s not my fault but I keep thinking if I hadn’t have slept for so long he’d still be alive.
The new parents had spent the day decorating their home for their first family Christmas before Haley went for a nap and Carmine settled down with Lucas to watch football.
The couple said they were well aware of the dangers of falling asleep with a newborn and want to make sure no other parents go through the trauma they’re experiencing.
‘I fell asleep about 7pm and when I woke up it was midnight. I didn’t plan to sleep that long but I was just exhausted,’ Haley said. ‘When I woke up I noticed Carmine was asleep and I couldn’t see the baby. I thought maybe he’d put him to bed so I went to look for his moses basket.
‘I went closer to my partner to wake him up and said ‘where’s Lucas?’. He looked really confused. ‘He lifted up his arm and you could see Lucas’s body between his arm and the arm of the chair.
‘Lucas’s body was lifeless. Carmine started doing CPR and I called 911 so the lady was telling us how to do it.
‘I was screaming and screaming at them to get the ambulance which arrived 12 minutes later.’
Carmine, who often worked 13 hour days as a construction contractor, had taken the day off to spend it with his son and girlfriend and said he was sitting upright with Lucas on his chest when he must have fallen asleep.
‘I looked for a pulse and tried to hear his heartbeat but there was nothing,’ Carmine said of the moment they discovered the little boy. ‘I started CPR and I did that for 12 minutes until the ambulance arrived.
‘Haley’s father who lives nearby came and took over the CPR but I couldn’t stop. I just continued doing it.
‘It was the most horrendous moment of my life.’
Paramedics desperately tried to save Lucas’s life and continued to perform CPR in the ambulance on the driveway for 45 minutes but it was too late.
Lucas was taken to a hospital and an autopsy later confirmed the cause of death as positional asphyxiation.