Family still seeking answers after freak accident death of Aryan Banerjee

By Carolyne Meng-Yee -
Nine-year-old Aryan Banerjee died peacefully in his parents' arms in September last year. Photo / Supplied
Nine-year-old Aryan Banerjee died peacefully in his parents' arms in September last year. Photo / Supplied

The family of a boy who died after a freak accident at a Hawke's Bay school are still searching for answers as they mark the first anniversary of his death.

Nine-year-old Aryan Banerjee died peacefully in his parents' arms in September last year.

Four months earlier he was hanged after his shirt collar got caught on a window latch as he tried to climb out of a bathroom at Taradale Primary.

Aryan could not open the door because the internal handle had been removed for maintenance. He was found unconscious and suffered significant brain damage.

His father, Hawke's Bay GP Anjan Banerjee, said he and his wife Maumita missed cuddling their bright little boy with a big smile.

"There is a massive hole in our lives - it feels like our hearts have been ripped out."

Taradale Primary is holding a private memorial service for Aryan at the school today.

Banerjee and his eldest son, Anshul, are guests of honour but Aryan's mother can't bear to go.

"They have made a 'buddy' bench with Aryan's name on it," said Banerjee.

"It's in the playground, which is appropriate. Aryan used to look out for little kids who looked lonely. He would go up to them and say, 'Are you okay?'"

Banerjee said the pain of losing Aryan, a popular pupil and promising footballer, was constant.

He coaches an under-12s football team at the school and said every time he walked past the window where his son was found hanging, "it hurts like hell".

Last year a report by WorkSafe - the national work health and safety regulator - ruled that Aryan's death could not have been reasonably predicted. No charges were laid.

But the Banerjees still have unanswered questions, which they hope will be addressed during the coroner's inquest in November.

They will be assisted by top lawyer Nigel Hampton, QC. He told the Herald there were many "inadequacies" in the WorkSafe report.

Banerjee said Hampton would be seeking "clarity about what happened, clarity about health and safety in schools and to ensure an incident like this doesn't ever happen again".

"[But] the reality is nothing will ever bring Aryan back. That's what we have to live with."

The Banerjees said it wasn't their son's fault he decided to climb out the window.

"He was a 9-year-old boy, who was trapped, panicked and didn't know better," Banerjee said.

Last weekend the family held a Hindu memorial service for Aryan.

"We did prayers invoking his spirit, asking God to look after him in whatever he's doing now."

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