A family gathered yesterday for dinner in Franklin, Mass., only to discover that two young siblings had locked themselves in a hope chest and were unresponsive, the Boston Globe reports. The children—Lexi Munroe, 8, and her brother Sean, 7—were rushed to hospital and later pronounced dead, leaving family members too distraught to help investigators. A neighbor brought the three surviving children over to her house during the ordeal, reports another Globe article. "They were in bad shape," the neighbor said. "They were crying and really sad."
Several family members were home when it happened, including at least one parent, but no one noticed the children crawl into the large chest that automatically locks when closed. "The hope chest was in relatively close proximity to a television that was apparently on with a substantial volume at the time," said a spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney, CBS Boston reports. Lane Furniture, which makes the chests, recalled 12 million of them in 1996 after at least six children died in similar fashion. Federal regulators warned about the chests for years, but at least 6 million of them remain in circulation, the New York Daily News reports. The family apparently bought their chest second-hand at least a decade ago.