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Toy connected to Martinsburg boy's death recalled

November 30, 1999|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

A 19-month-old Martinsburg boy was one of two children who apparently suffocated on oversized plastic toy nails from a toy that Hasbro Inc., the nation's second-largest toy maker, announced it was recalling Friday.

Zakary Michael Tetlow died Jan. 8, 2006, from an airway obstruction due to oral impaction by a foreign object, according to courthouse records in Berkeley County Clerk John W. Small's office.

The child's cause of death was determined by Zia Sabet, West Virginia deputy chief medical examiner in Charleston, W.Va., according to records.

Hasbro Chief Executive Al Verrecchia announced in a news release Friday that the voluntary recall applies to two plastic nails included in the Playskool Team Talkin' Tool Bench. About 255,000 tool benches have been sold in the last year.

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"I'm thrilled about that," Zakary's mother, Audrey L. Tetlow, said Friday of the recall. "They should have done it sooner."

The toy company learned in February about the death of Zakary, who apparently choked on a 3-inch-long plastic nail, according to The Associated Press.

Last week, the company learned it was named in a civil lawsuit prompted by the death of a 2-year-old boy from League City, Texas, who also allegedly choked on a toy nail.

"As soon as we heard that, we made the decision to get the product back and find out what's going on," Verrecchia said.

Jerry W. Hyatt, the attorney for Stephen and Audrey Tetlow, could not be reached for comment Friday, but no record of pending litigation could be found in Berkeley County Circuit Court or U.S. District Court in Martinsburg.

The couple declined to comment about whether they would file a lawsuit against Hasbro.

The toy workbench is designed for children 3 years of age and older, company officials said. Verrecchia said the nail, which is more than an inch wide, meets federal safety guidelines.

Zakary was pronounced dead at City Hospital on Jan. 8, about a week after the family moved into its Martinsburg home on New Year's Eve, Stephen Tetlow said.

"He was loved by a lot of people ? never a troublemaker," Audrey Tetlow said of her son. "He was a little problem solver ? a snug bug. He was a momma's boy. He was a good kid. He really was."

Zakary was buried in Etchison, Md., where his father's family is from. Audrey Tetlow is from Chicago.

"I love him to death and miss him deeply," Stephen Tetlow said Friday.

Born May 20, 2004, Zakary was named after a character on "Days of Our Lives," said Audrey Tetlow, a stay-at-home mother of two daughters, ages 5 and 7.

"I named my son after this little boy, and a week after my son dies, (the character) dies," she said.

Six weeks after Zakary died, Audrey Tetlow was surprised to learn she was pregnant again.

"It's a boy," she said.

Audrey Tetlow said she is scheduled to give birth any day because complications effectively nixed the projected Oct. 24 due date.

Stephen Tetlow said the couple had moved from Frederick, Md., in search of more affordable housing for their family. He now has only a short commute to Falling Waters, W.Va. for his computer support job.

"We couldn't find anything down there," he said. "We wanted a house with a yard for the kids to play."

Though newcomers in their neighborhood in the southern part of Martinsburg, the couple said the community rallied around the family when their son died, and they since have made many friends.

Stephen Tetlow said his daughters had struggled with their brother's death, but were old enough to understand he wasn't coming back. On Friday, they seemed playful and in good spirits at the family's modest, white-sided home.

"No one should have to ever lose a child," Stephen Tetlow said. "He was a great kid, a very great kid."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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