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  • Mystery surrounds toddler death
  • By Adam Bennett and Karen Davis
  • News Dot Com
  • 23/12/2008 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: The Rooster ( 264 articles in 2008 )
THE death of a toddler in mysterious circumstances just three days before Christmas has devastated a small New South Wales farming community.

The 23-month-old boy suffered cardiac arrest on the family's grain and cattle property at Mullaley, near Gunnedah, yesterday afternoon.

Emergency services called to the Black Stump Way property just after 2pm (AEDT) rushed the child to Gunnedah hospital, but he couldn't be revived.

His twin brother and two older brothers, aged three and five, were airlifted to the Children's Hospital at Westmead, in Sydney, as a precaution.

Authorities are now awaiting the results of toxicology tests and an autopsy, to be conducted at Newcastle on Wednesday, to shed more light on how the toddler died.

It was initially believed the boys may have drunk a chemical, and police have not ruled out poisoning.

The children's parents, Andrew and Susan Higgins, were flown to Westmead with their sons.

The older boys have since been released from hospital, while medical staff are waiting for the results of tests on the dead toddler's twin before discharging him.

One local resident, who asked not be named, said the boy's death had devastated the Mullaley community in the lead-up to Christmas.

“It's a kick in the guts,” he said.

“People had Christmas parties organised and they've been cancelled – it's knocked the stuffing out of everybody.

“They are a lovely family, and a lovely couple.”

Gunnedah Acting Police Inspector Karl Attenborough said police did not yet know what had caused the boy's death, but nothing “untoward” had been found during investigations at the farm.

“All I can say at the moment is that we are waiting for the results of the autopsy and toxicology reports and we have conducted a forensic examination of the premises,” he said.

Insp Attenborough said he did not know when the toxicology results would be available.

“Most of the family have been released from hospital, and their condition is fine,” he said.

“The youngest child is still in (the children's hospital) at this stage undergoing further testing, but his condition is fine.”

A hospital spokesman said the toddler was in a stable condition.


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