Healthy 11-year-old Sheffield schoolgirl dies after collapsing in her bedroom

Watercliffe Meadows pupil Shanira Onfroy, who collapsed and died.
Watercliffe Meadows pupil Shanira Onfroy, who collapsed and died.

A ‘fit and healthy’ 11-year-old schoolgirl died after a mystery fall in her bedroom, an inquest heard.

Shanira Onfroy, from Burngreave, Sheffield, came home from school and went upstairs to do her hair after playing with her younger siblings.

Her mum Caroline Onfroy heard a bang and when she went upstairs to investigate she found Shanira lying on her back on the floor.

The youngster was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital but later died. Distraught Ms Onfroy, who was supported by her partner Mark Whitley, said: “I wish I could express how much I loved and adored her. She was the apple of my eye and I wish it wasn’t this way.”

The inquest heard it is still not clear why Shanira collapsed. Pathologist Dr Luiz Perez said: “She fell and hit her head but it is not clear why she fell.

“There was no external finding of note, no trauma, but internally there was a brain edema or a swollen brain. This could be the result of a fall but there is no fracture or bruising.

“She was a fit and healthy 11-year-old we can conclude she had asthma but it wasn’t asthma that caused this.

“It is not possible to know whether she slipped and fell or whether something caused her to fall, like her heart.

“There was no lesion in the heart but that doesn’t mean it was normal in terms of function.

“There is no way of being certain. The only real find is a haemorrhage and brain edema.”

Shanira’s bedroom was carpeted and there is a possibility she tripped over although there was nothing obvious for her to fall over.

Dr Peres said: “Hitting a soft surface or carpeted floor may not leave any bruise.

“It is more common in smaller children but everybody is different. We cannot know the way it happened.”

Sudden infant death syndrome – SIDS – was ruled out by Mr Perez because ‘the cause of death is known, but not what caused it’.

Ms Onfroy had suffered another tragedy when her baby girl Sienna died from SIDS. Checks for abnormal heart rhythms were carried out on Shanira’s younger siblings but not on Shanira.

But Dr Peres said: “There is no reason to suppose Shanira would have such a thing.”

Det Sgt Rebecca Hardware, from South Yorkshire Police, told the coroner: “Uniformed officers attended the home and the hospital. There were no suspicions or concerns regarding third party involvement.

“This was established early on and there is nothing subsequently that contradicted that.”

Teachers told police Shanira was a model pupil at the school. She had seemed well throughout the week and it was a normal day and she participated well in lessons.

Assistant Coroner Louise Slater, who recorded a narrative verdict, said: “The exact circumstances surrounding her collapse remain unknown.”

She said to the family: “Please accept my sincere condolences. I have a daughter of Shanira’s age. Some cases will stay with me forever and this one will do.”