London - A boy who wanted a six-pack accidentally strangled himself on a pull-up bar while working out at home.
Harry Rock, 13, died after the sash of his dressing gown became tangled under his chin during a work-out experiment ‘that went sadly wrong’.
An inquest heard that Harry, known as Bear, was so academically advanced that he was being home-schooled.
His mother, Amanda Rock, who has a hairdressing salon at their home in Eastbourne, East Sussex, had checked up on a tutoring lesson in her son’s room before she started work with a client at 10am on March 20 last year. After her customer left at 1pm, Miss Rock went up to Harry’s room.
She told Eastbourne Coroner’s Court: ‘As I reached the second flight of stairs, I almost walked into him and I knew exactly what I was looking at.
‘I thought it was a joke because I thought he was smiling.’ But she said she then realised the full horror of what had happened.
Miss Rock found him suspended by his dressing gown sash, which was caught around his face and under his chin, with a ‘rickety chair’ tipped over on the floor.
After dialling 999, she cut her son down from the exercise bar and performed CPR on him as she waited for paramedics to arrive.
Harry was rushed to Eastbourne District General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead from ‘suspension’. Miss Rock agreed with the verdict of misadventure recorded by East Sussex assistant coroner James Healy-Pratt, explaining that her son wanted a six-pack. She added: ‘He’s a boy doing boy stuff.’
In a written statement, Harry’s GP confirmed that he had no mental health issues.
Police checked his mobile phone and social media accounts, but found nothing that indicated he wanted to take his own life.
His family said they were relieved that he had not committed suicide, but had simply had an accident. Miss Rock said: ‘I knew all along he hadn’t killed himself.
‘There was no evidence to support it. He was a normal, happy 13-year-old boy.
‘He was doing whatever exercise he was doing, the chair tipped and the sash restricted him. I truly believe it was a horrific accident.
‘He was fun, loving, caring – he’d always open the door for you. He was a gentleman, not loud.’
Helga Edwards, a family friend, told the inquest: ‘Harry always struck me as a very well-adjusted boy. I am 100 per cent convinced it was an accident and it would be a cruel misjudgement for anyone to state that he took his own life.’
Harry’s tutor, Rowanne Brown, said he had exhibited some ‘teenage angst’ over his studies, and became ‘visibly upset’ after being left out of a holiday his father and stepmother had taken.
Mr Healy-Pratt said: ‘This was a tragic experiment that went very wrong, but it wasn’t suicide.’