A child who tragically died in a freak accident at his Auckland daycare was playing with toy stilts on a slide when he died.

For the first time details can be revealed about the sudden death of 4-year-old Aldrich Viju, who died while playing at Angels Childcare Centre in Takapuna nearly a year ago.

Worksafe has confirmed it won't be prosecuting, after a lengthy investigation cleared the centre of any wrongdoing.

Centre owner Bryan McCloughen told the Herald on Sunday the tragedy that unfolded on November 19 was unimaginable.


Less than an hour after Aldrich's mother dropped him at the centre he was playing on the centre's playground.

McCloughen said Aldrich was sliding down a plastic slide with a stilt - a child's walking toy held together with cord - when it caught on the slide.

Another child witnessed the event and immediately alerted two nearby staff, but efforts by staff and paramedics to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Angels Childcare centre in Takapuna, Auckland. Photo / Chris Loufte
Angels Childcare centre in Takapuna, Auckland. Photo / Chris Loufte

Worksafe began investigating for possible health and safety breaches. By law workplaces must ensure their action or inaction doesn't harm others.

It's understood Worksafe looked at the equipment in the playground to determine whether it was faulty, but investigators told McCloughen there was no foreseeing that wearing stilts on a slide could be deadly.

The Ministry of Education and Worksafe subsequently gave public warnings about playground hazards that could pose risks.

Worksafe confirmed its investigation had concluded and no charges would be laid. Aldrich's family has been advised.

The matter is before the coroner and no decision has been made on whether there will be an inquest.


Angels temporarily closed after Aldrich's death but has been open since.

The preschooler's death devastated his family who are originally from Kochi, in Kerala, India. His mother Gisha Viju was pregnant when he died, and he was months away from starting school.

Family declined to comment this week but Viju previously told the Herald the tragedy was a parent's worst nightmare, and called on daycare centres to have mandatory cameras to capture accidents.

"My request is that proper action should [be taken] to prevent this," she said.

"No one knows the pain we are going through right now. We still can't accept the truth that he is not with us."

McCloughen said Aldrich's death had been hugely upsetting for staff and parents, who had all been offered counselling after the incident.


It was "absolutely" traumatic, he said.

"For everybody involved. The toll on the staff was immense. It was a very, very emotional time."

A staff member who performed resuscitation was so traumatised she left the centre.

Angels was now planning a refurbishment, including a new playground, and McCloughen praised the Ministry of Education, police, Worksafe and the local community for their support.

Parents had been "loyal" to the centre. "They could see the situation for what it was."

Although Worksafe's investigation was lengthy McCloughen said he never doubted the centre was safe, and was heartened by the community's sympathy.


"Most parents have said, 'this could have happened to us in our own home.'

"An event like that, you could lose a child in a second, and hence when they did CPR immediately, they had a heartbeat, but couldn't bring him back," he said.

"It's just a most unusual situation. In my 25 years [in childcare] it's not something you'd ever expect. I don't think I could have a safer centre. We were following the rules and regulations.

"We're just so sorry for the parents that it even happened, let alone that it happened at our centre."

He said Aldrich's family had distanced themselves from the centre, "as you could well imagine," and discussions had been through intermediaries. Angels launched a Givealittle page for the family, raising thousands.

McCloughen didn't believe cameras should be mandatory at childcare centres and said they wouldn't have prevented Aldrich's death. Although cameras may have helped investigations it would be logistically difficult for them to capture all the centre's activities, he said.


The Ministry of Education's deputy secretary of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said it had worked with Angels to "see if any lessons can be learnt to avoid a tragedy like this happening again in the early childhood sector".

The centre had an improved policy and practice in relation to health and safety, she said, and while its licence was made provisional while investigations continued, a review was expected to revert the centre back to a full licence.

"We would like to extend our condolences to Aldrich Viju's family. It's been a very difficult time for the little boy's family and our thoughts go out to them."