Cranberry girl severely injured by trunk lid in 2009 dies

| Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Cranberry girl whose devastating brain injuries four years ago led to a recall of 350,000 woven storage trunks died on Wednesday of complications from her injuries, the family's attorney said.

Camryn Surman, 5, had been in a persistent vegetative state since July 20, 2009, when the lid of a storage trunk slammed down on her neck, cutting off her oxygen supply.

“If that trunk had a safety hinge, this child would be running in the yard today,” said Martin Lazzaro, family friend and attorney for the Surman family. He added that Camryn, who required constant medical care, died of complications from her injuries.

“Our little angel earned her wings in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013,” her parents, Eric and Laura Surman, said in a statement. She will be buried Friday. Services will be private, her parents said.

“On behalf of Camryn, we initiated an investigation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission into the defective product that caused her to suffer the catastrophic brain injury that ultimately led to her death. This investigation triggered the recall of more than 300,000 dangerous items like the one that injured Camryn, and, as a result, protected other children from suffering as she did,” the Surmans said.

Laura Surman bought the trunk online from Target a short time before the accident. The family used it to store toys. The lid slammed down on the little girl, then 18 months old, trapping her.

The girl's parents sued Target, saying that the trunk should have been equipped with a lid support mechanism to prevent it from suddenly snapping shut or contained a warning that the trunk was not suitable for children or posed a risk of child suffocation.

The lawsuit, filed in Alle­gheny County Court on May 12, 2010, sought money to cover Camryn's medical expenses and for pain and suffering. She could not move and breathed with the aid of a respirator.

According to court records, the lawsuit was settled in 2011. Details of the settlement are sealed by court order.

On May 10, 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a voluntary recall notice for 14 different models of the storage trunks, made of woven rattan, abaca or banana leaf. The notice said two children, including Camryn, had been injured in accidents with the trunks.

A Target representative could not be reached for comment.

Many people rallied to support the family, hosting fundraisers and offering other help.

The Cranberry Uniting Playground organization named the Surman family as its Inspirational Family for 2010 to help with finances.

“I think when you're in the midst of dealing with something like this, you don't have the energy, time or awareness to say ‘Thank you' and pay it forward, but they were doing it all in the midst of this. I don't even know how they did it,” said family friend Diane Murray of Pine, who nominated the Surmans for the award, said Thursday that the family never forgot to express their gratitude.

There is no visitation. A funeral Mass will be celebrated 10 a.m. Friday in St. Ferdinand Church in Cranberry.

Instead of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions may be made to the Cranberry CUP, P.O. Box 1614, Cranberry, Pa., 16066 or Pennies from Heaven, 4401 Penn Ave., Floor 3, Pittsburgh, 15224.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or

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