Mum’s horror as son falls from balcony
PARENTS of a toddler who tragically fell from a second-storey apartment's balcony and later died on Portugal's south coast have been left heartbroken and "utterly devastated".
Australian woman Holly Bishop, 28, from Perth, and her British partner Robert Devlin, 32, have been living together in Lagos - where Mr Devlin runs a business - for about three years.
But their lives were struck by tragedy over the weekend when their 18-month-old son Spencer fell 7m from their second-storey apartment on May 5. He was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Ms Bishop's sister Jess Marach exclusively told news.com.au how the "devastating accident" unfolded around 9.30am on Saturday.
She said Ms Bishop told her she had been cleaning the house and "Spencer was following her around as he always did" in the moments prior to the incident.
"She had opened the window in Spencer's room a little bit to air the apartment and let floors dry," Ms Marach said.
"She said he was then playing in the bathroom banging around on the cupboards and she went to tell him to come out and he followed her back to the living room. She then continued to clean the apartment and again couldn't see Spencer or now hear him either.
"She thought he was getting up to mischief as kids do when they go quiet, so she went past the bathroom and didn't see him there, so then went into his room and found that he wasn't there either."
Ms Bishop reportedly panicked before noticing the window was "fully open", according to Ms Marach. The little boy had climbed out the window and on to the balcony, she said.
"[Holly] ... ran over to look [and] saw little Spencer on the ground outside with people surrounding him and she ran straight down the stairs to him," Ms Marach said.
"His breathing was very laboured, but he was breathing and he was immediately rushed to the local [Portimao] hospital."
A neighbour told a Portuguese online news site: "I heard a young man, who practised first aid on the youngster, screaming.
"The neighbour on the first floor came to the window. He then went to knock on the parents' door and the mum came to the window and saw her son lying on the ground".
Spencer was soon transferred to Algarve University Hospital Centre Hospital in Faro, about 100km away.
"Waiting at hospital they told Holly and partner Rob that Spencer's brain function was already gone but they both still held on to hope that he would pull through," Ms Marach said.
"Unfortunately the extent of his injuries were just too much for his small body and he passed away peacefully.
"It was just a freak accident that could happen to any of us in a split second."
The investigation by the Polícia Judiciária into how the toddler fell from the balcony continues.
Ms Marach said building safety regulations were far more relaxed in Portugal compared to Australia.
"Their windows open freely and they have no restrictions," she said.
The doting aunty said Spencer - who was born in Portugal - was "the happiest of toddlers" and "such a joy to be around".
"He was always happy and smiling and barely ever cried," she said.
"As expected our whole family is utterly devastated at the loss of Spencer and life will never be the same."
Friends of the family in Australia have started a GoFundMe page to help the couple pay funeral costs and medical bills. As of this afternoon, $2620 of the $5000 had been raised.
"The GoFundMe was set up for Holly and Rob, as a funeral for your 18 month old is not something that you ever budget for," Ms Marach said.
"There would be nothing worse than seeing my sister and her partner struggle to pay for these costs while trying to grieve the loss of the son that they loved so dearly."
Tammy Dower, who set up the fundraising page, wrote that Spencer's death "was the worst day of Rob and Holly's lives".
"Their little baby boy Spencer had a tragic accident and was taken to Faro Hospital in Portugal where they did all they could for him but unfortunately he just couldn't fight any longer," she said.
"Last night their beautiful baby boy Spencer grew his little wings and left all of his family behind."
"They are beyond devastated and would like to let everyone know but at the moment would just like some time to come to terms with their loss and be around family.
"I am setting this GoFundMe page up to help take the stress of the funeral and other bills away so they can grieve the loss of their little boy properly.
"It honestly breaks my heart in a million pieces for Holly and her family."
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said it was ready to offer consular assistance if requested.
The department can provide support and guidance to Australian citizens to assist with funeral arrangements.