Bury St Edmunds: Asthma boy, 9, dies in party tragedy

TRIBUTES have been paid to a young boy with a “cheeky grin” who died after suffering a severe asthma attack at his sister’s birthday party.

Owen Wagner, nine, from Barrow, collapsed after playing with friends at his sister Tegan’s sixth birthday party.

The poignant comments come just hours before the pupil’s funeral, due to be held today.

The tragic youngster, who was a pupil at Westley Middle School in Bury St Edmunds, suffered a fit and was taken to West Suffolk Hospital in the town on November 27, where he died later that day.

Tracy Asker, Owen’s mother, said her son had become wheezy while running around before the party at his grandmother’s house in Risby.

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“He was excited trying to help Tegan unwrap her presents,” she said. “He started getting wheezy and slowly got worse and worse.”

Owen’s family tried to revive him with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before paramedics arrived.

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But despite attempts to save him, Owen died later in hospital.

“He was a proper character,” Ms Asker, 38, said. “A real joker.

“He never complained and had such a cheeky grin.”

Flowers have been laid outside Barrow Primary School where Owen was a pupil before he moved up to Westley Middle School in September.

A book of condolences has been opened at both schools, where special assemblies have been held to tell pupils the sad news.

Owen, who had suffered from asthma for most of his life, also had an older sister, Jade Wagner, 17, and an older brother, Ryan Wagner, 15.

Ms Asker said his younger sister Tegan had been struggling to understand her brother’s death.

“They fought like cat and dog but they were inseparable,” she said. “It isn’t easy.

“She keeps giving me cuddles and saying Owen is with his grandad and they are making it snow.”

A funeral service will be held at Risby Church this afternoon, attended by friends, parents and staff at both Owen’s schools.

John Gibson, a former headteacher at Barrow Primary School, will play Owen’s favourite song, You’ve got a Friend, on his guitar.

Owen will be buried with his beloved grandfather, Phillip Asker, who died of kidney failure three years ago.

Alison Earl, headteacher at Barrow Primary School, said staff had opened the school the day after Owen’s death to offer the community a place to support each other.

“The children and parents needed somewhere to gather,” she said. “A few of the pupils were very upset.

“Owen was very popular and very good fun. He was a lovely boy.”

Pip Moore, deputy headteacher at Westley Middle School, said a special room had been set aside for students to sign Owen’s book of condolence in the days after his death.

“It was a massive shock for them but they have coped very well,” he said. “It hit his class harder than any other group.

“There was just a continuous stream of pupils lining up to sign his book and you could have heard a pin drop.

“It was really quite special.”

All are welcome to attend the service at Risby Church at 2pm this afternoon.

Donations are requested to Asthma UK.


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