Central Valley

Modesto toddler is killed in stove accident

A west Modesto toddler died Wednesday morning after he climbed onto an oven door, which caused the stove to tip over and crush him, a police spokesman said.

Stanislaus County coroner officials identified the boy as Ernesto Madrigal, who died two days before his second birthday.

"This appears to be a tragic and horrific accident," said Modesto police Sgt. Brian Findlen. "There does not appear to be any signs of neglect (by the adults in the home)."

A Bee reporter knocked on the front door of the family home Wednesday evening, but nobody answered. Attempts to reach the family by phone were unsuccessful.

The accident occurred shortly before 9 a.m. at the boy's home in the 400 block of Maple Street, just south of Maze Boulevard.

Findlen said it appeared the boy wandered away from his parents and other children in the home without anyone realizing it. He said the boy went into the kitchen and opened the oven door.

"The boy climbed onto the oven door to use it as a step to get on top of the stove," Findlen said. "The weight on the oven door caused the stove to tip over and fall on the boy, pinning him between the oven door and the stove."

Findlen said one of the other children heard the "crashing sound" and found the injured toddler. The parents called 911 soon after reaching the kitchen.

Modesto Fire Battalion Chief Mark Johansen said firefighters were the first emergency personnel to arrive. He said the boy was unresponsive, so firefighters began CPR and other lifesaving procedures.

The boy was taken by ambulance to a Modesto hospital where he later died.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded last year that large home appliances and furniture can tip over and crush children. The commission identified these accidents as one of the "top five hidden home hazards."

These deaths and injuries frequently occur when children climb onto, fall against or pull themselves up onto oven doors, television stands, shelves, bookcases, dressers, desks and chests, according to the commission.

In 2008, the commission released a report that showed at least 180 such deaths occurred in the United States from 2000 to 2006. The report showed 80 percent of the incidents involved children younger than 10.

Hector Loyer, 62, lives across the street from the boy's family. He said he didn't know the family well, but he always saw adults watching the children as they played in the front yard.

"This is such a tragedy," Loyer said in Spanish. "He wasn't even 2 years old yet."

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.