A Christchurch woman has described the terrible scenes when a hysterical woman carrying a choking child banged on her door seeking help.
It is understood the 2-year-old boy was eating his evening meal at his Wainoni Rd home when he began choking on a piece of food about 4.30pm on Wednesday.
A neighbour, who asked not to be identified, was at home with her 1-year-old son and her grandmother when she heard frantic knocks on the door.
"The lady from next door was standing there, hysterical. She had her son in her arms and he was a little bit blue. He was still alive but ever so slightly. I told my grandma to call 111 and I started CPR."
At one point the boy vomited up some food, which the woman thought was a good sign.
Within a few minutes St John paramedics were at the scene, followed by firefighters.
"They popped him on the kitchen table and worked on him for what seemed like about an hour. There were a lot of people in here working on him."
Despite their desperate efforts, the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
The boy's mother and her family then stood around the table and prayed and wept.
"It's any parent's worst nightmare and being a mother myself, it's really hit home. It puts everything into perspective. It could have been my son."
Police said they were supporting the family, who are originally from Afghanistan, and investigating the death on behalf of the coroner.
"It's an absolutely tragic accident," Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Ford said.