Couple warns of toys after 10-year-old tragically dies from swallowing small rubber ball

Payton Bryant Gaskins (WCIV)

A Georgetown couple is working through their unimaginable grief, warning parents even simple toys can be dangerous.

Billy and Candice Gaskins lost their son on October 21st. 10-year-old Payton swallowed a small rubber ball. Billy said he bought Payton and his 6-year-old sister Morgan, bouncy balls from a 25-cent dispenser under two conditions: no bouncing the ball in the store and do not put it in your mouth. He said they played with the ball for the day and then forgot about them. The next morning, he said Payton came into their room, left for two minutes and came back in, pointing to his mouth.

“He was doing this at me and all I could see was that big red ball in the back of his throat,” Billy said. “I immediately jumped up and started doing the Heimlich maneuver on him and the ball wouldn’t come out.”

He also tried manually grabbing the ball out of Payton’s mouth. When that didn’t work, he began CPR while Candice called 911. Payton was airlifted from Georgetown to MUSC in Charleston. But after several days in a medically-induced coma, Payton never recovered, his brain lost too much oxygen.

“It was very hard and knowing we were going to leave that hospital without him, it was very hard and to tell his sister that her brother wasn’t coming home,” said Candice.

She said they prayed like they never prayed before. Although prayers did not bring their son back, it did deliver peace.

“I was praying there one night and something happened and I felt the hair stand up on my body and it was something giving me peace to let me know Peyton was okay,” Billy said.

Payton is gone, but his spirit still lives inside and outside their home. His room is still just the way he left it.

“I got out in the yard sometimes and I just see him running around the yard, playing because that’s what he always did you know,” said Billy.

They said never in their wildest dreams did they think Payton would die in a freak accident—he was adventurous.

“We could picture him getting into a four-wheeler accident or a dirt bike accident because he was always on something like that, but for it to actually have been a ball to take our child’s life, it’s just unimaginable,” Candice said. “Maybe a baby not knowing but you know a 10-year-old you wouldn’t think.”

The grieving parents hope their story can serve as a message for others.

“Anything in your house that a child can choke on, get rid of it, rubber ties off little cars and trucks, any kind of little ball they can stick in their mouth,” said Billy. “Freak accidents can happen in a matter of seconds. It took all of two minutes for him to walk out of my room I had just took my eyes off him.”

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