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hope chestFranklin, MA – A brother and sister, both under 10-years-old, have died after trapping themselves inside a hope chest while playing inside their home.

Investigators believe Lexi, 8, and Sean Munroe, 7, climbed into the chest on their own and didn’t realize that it could only be opened from the outside. Although other family members were inside the home at the time, including three older siblings, the chest was located in a room where a television was on.

“Several family members were home at the time of the incident,” said David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney’s office. “The hope chest was in relatively close proximity to a television that was apparently on with a substantial volume at the time.”

By time the boy and girl were found inside the chest, they were unconscious. Both were rushed to the hospital but would later be pronounced dead. Neighbors comforted the victims’ three siblings after the bodies were found. “They were in bad shape,” a neighbor told reporters.

Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths, but believe this is just a tragic accident. The chest was made by Lane Furniture, who recalled the ‘Lane’ and ‘Virginia Maid’ model of their chest in 1996 to replace locks that automatically latched when closed.

I’m taking a guess here, based on Traub’s comment and the neighbors comforting the surviving children, but I’m guessing the victims were being babysat by the older children. Traub said the parents are cooperating with police.

Out of all the stories that we’ve reported on concerning children dying after accidentally getting locked inside something, the one that sticks with me most is the death of 6-year-old James Cook. He died in 2007 after hiding from his sister inside a microwave that had been placed outside. After climbing in and shutting the door, he suffocated in 91 degree heat.

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