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South Island mum of boy who died in gas powered shower warns other families not to use units

A South Island mother is warning other families about gas-powered showers after her 12-year-old boy died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Source: istock

Justine Walkers oldest son Jesse Samuel died at their Haast holiday home three weeks ago.

Jesse was overwhelmed by gas in the shower and lost consciousness. He was found unresponsive by his mother.

"He was the most amazing boy. In life there are some special kids and he was one of them. He was kind, caring and helpful. He helped me through some tough times and he was always right beside me," Ms Walker told the NZ Herald's Carolyne Meng-Yee.

"It was installed correctly by a plumber. My family would never put anyone at risk. A gas bottle is attached on the outside and a califont on the inside which heats the water.

"My brother had been using it at his holiday home for four months with no problem at all so there was no reason for something like this to go wrong."

In Haast, with his grandmother, two brothers and mother, while Walker was preparing dinner, Jesse decided to take a shower in the outdoors bathroom which was opposite the kitchen.

Jesse chose to shower there because the pressure was stronger than the one inside. The shower was a gift from Walkers brother and there was no clues it was faulty.

Walker's two younger sons, Cody, 9 and Zane, 8 had used the shower just the day before.

"Jesse was in there for about 20 minutes but I didn't think too much of it because we were on holiday and I thought he was enjoying standing in the warmth. We have a big family so it's usually in and out of the shower at home. I wish I didn't let him use that shower now.

"It felt like it happened right before my very eyes. I know I couldn't prevent this but I feel so guilty. It's a mother's guilt that no-one can understand."

The Coroner's office could find no records of deaths in gas-powered showers in New Zealand. 

A spokeswoman for Master Plumbers said the showers were a popular choice for many homes and baches around the country.

"They are easy to use and provide a reasonably cheap and reliable source of hot water," she said.

She says it was imperative they were fitted by trained professionals who were aware of "modern safety requirements".

Jesse was farewelled by family and friends at the Alexandra Bowling Club on Wednesday. A snowboard was put on top of his casket so he could be buried with it.