A pair of four-year-old twins suffocated after falling asleep in their cedar toy chest in the middle of the night.
Aurora, a girl, and Kellan, a boy, were taken to bed by their father Don Starr on August 25 but decided to snuggle up in the box used to store their stuffed animals.
They ran out of oxygen and suffocated and were eventually found dead, with their arms wrapped around each other, by their older brother who assumed they were still asleep.
Their mother Sadie Myers shared her heartbreak in a tribute to the twins on social media and said: ‘Not many will know the pain of losing two children at the same time, and losing them in a way that makes no sense.’
But she issued a warning to other parents that the toy chests become ‘air tight’ and ‘soundproof’ when closed.
Twins Aurora (left) and Kellan (right) suffocated after falling asleep in their cedar toy chest in the middle of the night
Myers spoke about the death of her twins on Facebook and wrote: ‘Me and Don are having and extremely hard time trying to make sense of this… not many will ever know the feeling of trying to not spend EVERY WAKING SECOND crying in agony.
‘So hard that it makes you fall over in pain, but we are trying soooo hard to not let our boys see us this way.
‘I have to believe that something in this universe chose them specifically, maybe to protect them from some future tragedy, or maybe because their souls were too perfect for this world.’
She was working on the night of the incident so her husband Don put their four children to bed.
But the twins woke up at some point early on Saturday and decided to play together using the wooden chest.
Their mother said they would get up at odd hours and would find them sleeping in various places in the morning with toys scattered across their shared room.
‘Friday night, the weird place they decided to snuggle up and go back to sleep was in their cedar toy chest that we use to store all their stuffed animals,’ she wrote.
The twins took out most of the stuffed animals and kept a few to provide a layer of cushioning but fell asleep with their arms draped across each other.
She woke up on Saturday morning and panicked when she saw they were not in bed and were not immediately visible.
The family raced around trying to find the twins before one of their older brothers opened the chest and saw them, he was unaware they were dead.
He said: ‘Mommy! I found them! They are so silly just sleeping in the toy box.’
But Myers instantly realized they were dead. ‘I went to check and within a few seconds I knew something wasn’t right, but I also quickly realized it was already too late,’ she said.
She assumes they wished other goodnight before falling asleep. ‘Good night, Kell Kell,’ Aurora would tell her twin. While Kellan would respond: ‘Night night, sissy.’
The heartbroken mother warned parents about how dangerous the cedar toy chest can be.
‘Something I did not know and I’m sure many others don’t know is that most wooden toy chests once closed are AIR TIGHT and also sound proof,’ she wrote.
‘So as they slept, all snuggled up together, they slowly ran out of oxygen within a couple of hours and passed away.
‘They never even knew it was happening. There was no sudden gasp for air, it was a very slow transition from sleep to passing on…’
The older boys have been staying with family members as the parents deal with the loss of the twins.
‘They have been with family for the past week because we don’t want to emotionally scar them seeing us like this, and they need to be away from all the triggers that could cause them to be in our same state,’ Myers wrote.
She added: ‘We will be going to family therapy sessions to try and help that… Me and Don have explained to them that death is a part of life and that they did an amazing job giving their baby brother and sister the best four years possible.
‘We were so very LUCKY to get the gift of having the twins with us for even a short time because they changed us all for the better and brought sooo much light and love into our lives, every second with those twins was full of laughter, silliness, dancing, silly questions and funny faces, games and jokes, happiness and LOVE!!!’
Deputies from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department arrived at the property but could not save them. They kept details about the tragedy at a minimum to protect the family’s privacy.
A fundraising page was set up on GoFundMe by Myers’ sister Deanna and almost $17,000 has been raised for the family so far.
The twins’ aunt said Starr worked during the day and her sister worked at night so they did not have to leave their children with a babysitter.
‘They both worked full-time jobs, one in the morning and one in the evening so they would never have to leave the children alone with a sitter,’ she wrote.
‘I know they were always exhausted but they were still able to be so present and so loving with each of their four children, every single day, no exceptions.’