Braverman said Alex had “a very passionate desire to live” and wanted to “breathe, play, feel things, eat, swing high in the air, be with family and friends.”
“He’s not alive now, he’s not breathing, he’s not playing in the sun, he’s not playing in the rain,” she said.
“There is no possible reason that Alex died. He was supposed to have had a long, joyful and meaningful life enjoying nature, being with his family, living either in a safe group home or at home, or a combination.
“I had as many dreams for Alex’s future as parents have for their typically developing children – the dreams were different but meant the whole world to me.”
Braverman said a child’s life isn’t dispensable just because he lives with a disability, and she doesn’t want her son to be seen as “unfortunate collateral damage of a broken system.”
She would happily trade the rest of her life so that Alex could have five more minutes to play. “Alex my love, I’m so sorry I left you here,” she said. “Mom is sorry.”
Grahame made numerous recommendations, including that Civic not provide substitute respite care for people under the age of 16.
The inquest also looked into the deaths of Riley Shortland, 8, and his temporary carer Rachel Martin, 28, who died in a separate tragedy in November 2017 when Riley – who was developmentally delayed – unbuckled her harness and got out of the car on the M1 motorway near Newcastle.
Rachel, who was pregnant with her first child, pulled over in a tow lane when Riley began to unbuckle her seat belt. He ran into traffic and she bravely followed him, but both were fatally hit by a truck.
Grahame said the deaths were preventable tragedies. She recommended a number of policy changes for the agency caring for him, SNAP, including the use of two people in a car when transporting a passenger with individual needs.
Other policy changes included a driver contacting emergency services or a designated support person if they had to stop near a major highway.
Riley was described as a loving, creative, and talented boy who enjoyed the outdoors, running, and water play. His death marked all who knew and loved him.
Grahame said Rachel was funny, kind, smart and generous, and she looked forward to the future. Her untimely death – “in the prime of life with so much to live for” – left her loved ones in deep and continuing grief.
Grahame offered his heartfelt condolences to all three families.
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