Home Safety Boy dies of playground injuries

Boy dies of playground injuries


Relatives and friends mourned the death of a 9-year-old Spreckels boy who was critically injured in a playground accident earlier this week. O’Brien Swanston died Wednesday morning at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital with his family surrounding him, relatives said.

His father, Charles Swanston, was talking to neighbors who had come by his home in the afternoon to inquire about O’Brien’s condition.

Swanston, who was wearing a baseball cap and a slight stubble, was too shaken to talk to reporters.

O’Brien’s baseball net was still displayed in the front yard.

Bouquets were left on the platform near the Zip-line type device at the playground where O’Brien was playing Monday.

He became entangled in a jump rope that was slung over the handle of the device, neighbors said. The jump rope had a flimsy knot.

The device on which O’Brien was playing runs on a suspended track that allows the user to hold on and slide back and forth between knee-high platforms.

That morning, before 11 a.m., O’Brien went to the playground. His baby sitter and older sister, Brenna, were going to follow. The baby sitter was making lunch for the children and arrived at the park moments after a man found O’Brien.

The man immediately called for help and firefighters and paramedics responded.

Children who play at the park said they rarely see rope tied to the handle.

Ryan Zeidler, 10, was riding his bicycle with his brother in the playground Wednesday.

Ryan played T-ball with O’Brien a few years ago.

“He was funny,” said Ryan, who was tending to his puppy.

The boys would ride Razor scooters in the park and play baseball or basketball whenever they could.

On Wednesday afternoon, people casually stopped by the makeshift memorial or sat on a bench on the perimeter of the playground.

The quiet scene was something unusual for the fairly new playground.

“Since the accident, the park has been empty,” said Paul Grothe.

Grothe lives a couple of blocks from the park. He said he drove past the park several times since Monday and saw few children playing in the park.

“I’ve lived here for nine years and I’ve never heard of an incident like this here,” he said. “The park is hub of the town. Kids play there all the time.”

Grothe said he knows Swanston through the Spreckels Volunteer Fire Company and remembered O’Brien coming through the firehouse with his sister on weekends.

“They were well-behaved kids,” Grothe said.

He said that when anything happens in Spreckels, everyone is aware.

“When something like that happens, the community comes together,” he said.

Memorial services for O’Brien have not been set.

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