Head of daycare speaks out after tragedy

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Four-year-old Aldrich Viju died in an accident at the Angels Childcare Centre on Anzac St, Takapuna. Photo / Supplied

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

The head of an Auckland daycare where a child died is speaking out for the first time.

Aldrich Viju died just over a week ago in what police have only described as a "tragic accident'' at the Angels Childcare facility in Takapuna.

But the 4-year-old's family said they want answers on how their precious son died.

Nine days on from Aldrich's death neither the centre nor authorities investigating it have told them what led to the tragedy.

Answers the parents are seeking include whether or not a teacher was monitoring the playground area at the time of the accident.

Speaking for the first time, manager Bryan McCloughan told Newstalk ZB the family has been involved as much as possible.

He said the centre met with a family representative at the daycare on Saturday.

He said they tried to meet earlier with family but things were happening very quickly, and the boy's father wasn't in a state to talk early on.

McCloughan said information is going to go back to the boy's parents in India.

All parents from the daycare have been told about what happened and counselling is being organised for children and staff.

McCloughan said staff were fully trained, above minimum levels.

He said there were seven children, with two staff members who were qualified and very experienced.

"Even the children, they've seen things and we've organised counselling for them and our staff.

"They've taken it very hard, it can all happen in 30 seconds and this happened very very quickly," he said.

The little boy was remembered at a service in Auckland this week before his body was flown to India for a final farewell on Friday. His father and mother, Viju Vareed and Gisha Viju, will remain in their motherland for several weeks with their 2-year-old daughter Andrea, before returning to New Zealand.

But as they grieve they are also seeking answers behind the tragedy - both so they can understand why their precious boy died and to ensure no other family has to endure a similar fate.

Auckland-based family spokesman Joseph Devasia said Aldrich's parents were pushing for the details surrounding the circumstances of their eldest child's death to be revealed to the public.

Devasia said Aldrich's father, in particular, wanted the case to be highlighted to help prevent a similar accident from happening to another child.

"He keeps saying that we need to go up to any extent of highlighting this case because he said it shouldn't happen to anyone [again].

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"So he's asking for support for that. We need to bring it out and make sure this incident won't ever be repeated."

Police have not revealed the cause of Aldrich's death, but an investigation is being carried out by both police and WorkSafe.

Devasia said Aldrich's father had spoken about the day he got the devastating call he needed to go to his son's daycare as there had been an accident.

"When he reached there, his wife was already there. They said [Aldrich's] body was on the ground.

"They put him on the ground and ... tried to do CPR."

Devasia said a member of the centre's management told the family Aldrich had been playing on a climbing net attached to a slide when he slipped.

When the family asked the centre's staff directly whether there had been a teacher monitoring the playground area when the accident happened, they were met with silence.

"They didn't have any answer,'' Devasia said.

The Angels Childcare centre - which also has a branch in New Lynn, West Auckland - did not return calls and requests for comment from the Herald yesterday.

Earlier in the week, a message was posted to its website acknowledging the incident.

"On Friday afternoon a tragic accident occurred at our Takapuna centre and one of our young boys passed away.

"Our prayers, thoughts and love go out to his family, friends, our team members and the broader Angels community. We will be doing everything we can to support them through this difficult time."

The centre closed on Monday as a mark of respect to Aldrich and his family, the statement said.

"We are working closely with the authorities to support them in their investigation of the accident.

"We will also be making contact over the weekend with all of the families of our children here at Angels to provide them with further information."

ACC figures provided to the Herald on Sunday showed that in 2015, there were 6754 claims made in relation to children aged zero to four injured on school grounds.

That number has been steadily rising since 2011, when the claim count for children hurt stood at 4594.

The data includes people using school grounds over the weekend or for unrelated activities.

- Additional reporting: Newstalk ZB

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