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'One night I had my two kids and the next night my world was ripped apart’
Pride of Australia finalist Vanessa Robinson is rebuilding her life after a tragedy that would have broken the spirit of most people. RUTH LAMPERD reports.
Most nights, Vanessa would peep in before going to bed to ensure her sons were in their own rooms.
Six-year-old Tyler was scared of the dark; Chase was 20 months older and a good big brother. When they weren’t at school they were inseparable.
Vanessa can’t remember if she checked on them before turning in on May 30, 2010. The night became a bit of a blur. So did the rest of the next two years, two months and three weeks till now.
They woke up that night, crying. Their restlessness didn’t alarm Vanessa. It was normal for kids to be unsettled. It might have just been a bad dream.
As with so many nights before, they jumped into bed with her, the three of them dropping back to sleep in no time.
“I thought they were safe because they were with me at home in bed. Home is supposed to be the safest place in the world,” she says.
But their home wasn’t safe. She didn’t know something deadly was creeping up on them all. Seeping from their heater.
Chase and Tyler went to sleep and never woke up. And Vanessa woke to her worst nightmare.
CARBON monoxide is odorless. It is invisible and tasteless. When you are dying, you don’t know it.
In the rented three-bedroom home on Kalimna Drive, Mooroopna, this little family was being poisoned.
Their gas heater mounted on the wall was left on low all night to keep out the chill.
Vanessa works in hospital administration. She hears a lot about medical issues. She knows doctors who know lots of helpful things.
But never had she heard that the most basic of household appliances could kill people silently. Most people hadn’t. Not even emergency professionals were fully aware of the problem. Certainly not in Shepparton.
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