Blind cord recall hits home for Valley couple

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Disturbing photos, taken by the Consumer Product Safety Commission recreate what Todd and Joley Michaelson say happened to their son at their luxury condo in The Residences at CityNorth.

Cashel Michaelson was apparently playing near a sliding glass door when somehow, a small chain used to adjust window blinds got looped around his neck.

That's when the Michaelsons say he suddenly began running towards the kitchen, extending the chain to its full length, yanking his entire body backwards.

“I thought it might have broken his neck,” Joley said.

Thankfully, he wasn't badly hurt, but the CPSC reports 200 children have been strangled to death because of blind cords since 1990.

A December recall specifically names roll-up blinds - similar to what the Michaelsons had - and another type called roman blinds, as the source of 16 strangulations and eight deaths in recent years.

A company called Mechoshade Systems manufactured the Michaelson's blinds, but did not install them. According to the company, child-safe chain retainers come standard and it provides instructions as to how to install them. This information is also available through their web site http://www.mechoshade.com/manualshades/mechoshade_system.cfm.

But Todd claims that part was never installed in his condo.

“For a blind cord to not be adhered to the wall where it's just a free-swinging noose is just inexcusable in my opinion,” Todd said.

3 On Your Side asked CityNorth - now facing foreclosure - about whether it plans to make any changes to the blinds.

In a statement, CityNorth's general manager, Peter Houck writes:

“The safety and security of every CityNorth tenant is a top priority for Related Urban. Concerns surrounding the blinds at rental units at CityNorth have been addressed both with the blind manufacturer and through the Consumer Product Safety Commission. While the blind manufacturer assured CityNorth that our products were not involved in any recalls, we have still proactively installed additional safety brackets as a preventative measure. These were first installed for tenants with children and are currently being installed in the remaining units. In addition, an onsite visit from the Consumer Product Safety Commission resulted in no safety violations for the blinds in our properties.”

The move comes too little too late for the Michaelsons.

Four weeks after their son's September accident, they moved to a small studio apartment because, they say, management at the north Phoenix complex didn't take quick enough action.

“A parent like myself or my husband who was right there, if something more serious would've happened to our son,” Joley continued, “I don't think we ever would've forgiven ourselves, like it was our fault, we were right there.”

The CPSC is offering a free kit to retrofit roman and roll-up blinds.