OREM, Utah (AP) — At 21 months, Ollie Hebb was his mother's helper on laundry day, climbing atop a bin so he could toss clothes into a top-loading washer.
On the morning he went missing for a few minutes, Tiffany Hebb went through her house calling for him but got no answer. She found the toddler in the washing machine, submerged in a full tub. He died a day later.
His mother, recently moved to Oregon from Utah, says she never thought the washing machine would be a danger to her child and is telling the story to make parents aware of the danger.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission, a federal agency, says such deaths are rare — two children under the age of 5 died in washing machines between 2005 and 2009, according to a 2011 report.
"I ran through my whole house, calling his name and couldn't find him anywhere," Tiffany Hebb told The Deseret News (http://bit.ly/HAwgTZ ), "not ever thinking that he would be in my washer."
Tiffany and Chris Hebb will likely not face charges, Hillsboro, Ore., police spokesman Michael Rouches said Monday.
"Detectives don't believe that this was an intentional crime or that anyone stuck the baby in the washer," Roushes said Monday morning. "We have the DA's office look into it, just to make sure there wasn't a degree of negligence."
Rouches said detectives looked but couldn't find other cases when toddlers drowned under similar circumstances.
"She was 30 feet away in the living room, reading a magazine," Rouches said. "It wasn't like the mother had this kid unattended at the time."
The 2011 report says two children under the age of 5 died in washing machines between 2005 and 2009. During that timeframe, 350 children died in bathtubs, and 77 drowned in something else, such as a decorative water feature, a cooler or a septic tank.
The boy died after a day on life support. His organs were donated.
The couple had recently moved from Orem, Utah, to the Portland suburb where Chris Hebb had found a job. The newspaper reports the boy was buried over the weekend in Utah.
"Every night when I go to sleep, I start feeling sick," Chris Hebb told the newspaper. "Every time I wake up, I think this is a nightmare and then realize it's real. . You hear a baby crying in the night from a neighbor's house. You wake up, hoping it's your little boy, and then realize he's not there."
Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com