Childcare teacher Jiae Kwon had just finished playing with a group of children when a little girl came over and said one of the boys "was sleeping and won't wake up".

That boy was 4-year-old Aldrich Viju who died at Angels Childcare Centre after being strangled by a cord from a pair of toy stilts he was playing with in November 2016.

Heartbreaking details about the tragedy were revealed during an inquest into the preschooler's death at the Auckland District Court today.

Staff described how the boy's father dropped him off at the centre on Anzac St, Takapuna on a Friday afternoon at around 1pm.

Advertisement

"When he [Aldrich] arrived that afternoon, he ran in. He normally stays with his dad but he saw his friend and he was very excited" said a teacher who can't be named.

She said the last time she saw Aldrich was holding hands with his friend while standing on a yellow box outside.

Aldrich Viju died in an accident at the Angels Childcare Centre in Takapuna. Photo / Supplied
Aldrich Viju died in an accident at the Angels Childcare Centre in Takapuna. Photo / Supplied

"He was laughing on the box," she recalled, while holding back tears.

A former teacher at the school, Jiae Kwon, said she was playing a game with a group of children outside at the time, where they would race each other around the play area.

Shortly after the game finished, a girl came up to her and explained "Aldrich was sleeping and won't wake up".

After looking around, she found Aldrich unconscious on the slide, with a cord from a pair of toy stilts around his neck.

"His heart was beating but wasn't breathing".

She immediately untangled him from the slide and administered CPR - while Centre Manager Karen Douglas called the ambulance.

Advertisement

Karen, who was visibly upset, said she initially didn't believe it was anything major.

Floral tributes outside the Angels Childcare centre for Aldrich Viju in Takapuna, Auckland. Photo / Chris Loufte
Floral tributes outside the Angels Childcare centre for Aldrich Viju in Takapuna, Auckland. Photo / Chris Loufte

"While on the phone I remember thinking it's all going to be okay. But when I reached the scene outside and saw CPR being administered, one of my biggest fears within the industry was realised. "

The teachers cleared the way for paramedics, but Aldrich wasn't able to be revived.

He died of strangulation.

Worksafe conducted an investigation and found there was no evidence to support a criminal prosecution.

Worksafe Health and Safety inspector Philip Cuff said the likelihood of the hazard being realised by staff was "unforeseeable".

Advertisement
Mourners including family members gather around the casket at the front of the Immaculate Conception Church in Ellerslie at the funeral of Aldrich Viju. Photo / Peter Meecham
Mourners including family members gather around the casket at the front of the Immaculate Conception Church in Ellerslie at the funeral of Aldrich Viju. Photo / Peter Meecham

"At no stage during the investigation did anybody think a rope could get caught on that slide, with its rounded and curved corners," he said.

However, Angels Childcare Centre had made changes since the tragic accident.

The centre no longer has stilts – and has banned anything that could strangle a child on the play equipment.

"Anything that can cause strangulation has no place in our centre" Karen Douglas said.

They've also replaced the slide, sectioned off an area outside with new fencing and put up a convex mirror to cover a blind spot outside.

The owner of the centre, Bryan McCloughen, said everyone was still reeling from that awful day.

Advertisement

"We are deeply sorry for Aldrich's death. When he lost his life, it impacted us all at the centre."

Aldrich's parents weren't at the inquest.

The coroner has reserved her decision.