Four-year-old girl in Dubai hospital after gym treadmill accident

Naraya Broun was sucked into the mechanism as she tried to reach an exercise ball

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A young girl is seriously ill in a Dubai hospital after an accident in the gym at a residential building.

Naraya Broun was pulled free from a treadmill machine after being sucked into the back of the belt mechanism as she tried to retrieve a gym ball.

The four-year-old's hands and arms were dragged into the machine up to the point where her neck was pushed against the rear belt roller.

Alex Broun, 56, her father, switched off the machine but struggled to pull her out.

I really believe in the power of prayer. I want to get this out there to get as many people as possible to pray for her
Alex Broun, Naraya's father

"It was an unbelievable freak accident, it happened so fast," he told The National of the incident on Thursday night, which occurred about 10.20pm in their residential building in Al Bada'a, near Jumeirah.

Naraya, who her parents call NaiNai, was stuck in the machine for more than 10 minutes while her father tried to free her. He described the treadmill as an older model that was high off the ground compared with newer styles.

"There was no one else in the gym, no one else on the whole third floor," he said.

He focused on releasing her arms from the machine but in moments realised her neck was compressed and that she was struggling to breathe.

"Her face was going white, and her lips purple," he said.

Mr Broun, an Australian who was taught CPR at a young age, had the quick thinking to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, which may have saved her life.

"She seemed to get some of the colour back in her lips and come around, but was still stuck," said Mr Broun, a well-known playwright who works in the creative industries.

"I was screaming so loud. I was stuck here on the third floor and no one could hear me. Eventually a friend heard and rang an ambulance."

Naraya Broun, 4, in the intensive care ward at Rashid Hospital in Dubai. Doctors hope her condition will improve in the coming days

Another resident ran into the third floor gym and used an exercise bench to prise the treadmill off the ground and relieve pressure on Naraya's neck.

"She wasn't saying anything, she was very still," Mr Broun said.

"He went downstairs to security and they brought scissors and a knife to try to puncture the ball. In the end they cut the treadmill roll in half."

Mr Broun said the ambulance service arrived within minutes.

The accident happened about 10.20pm and by 10.45pm he estimated she was in the emergency unit at Rashid Hospital, one of the Gulf's largest hospitals.

"Absolutely unbelievable freak accident, it happened so fast," he said.

Energetic Naraya would only ever do a slow walk on a treadmill or play on a bouncy ball on their trips to the gym, he said.

In the ambulance, his daughter appeared to come around but was in shock.

"I asked her to squeeze my finger and she squeezed it a little bit," he said.

"We got to Rashid Hospital and you know the staff have been fantastic, done a wonderful job. They had her in for a CT scan which was inconclusive. Now they've sedated her.

"The real danger is the hypoxia of the brain."

Naraya is an avid Liverpool football fan, and also loves rugby and cricket. Last weekend she and her father enjoyed a trip to the Dubai Rugby Sevens to cheer on Australia.

"She's incredibly happy, with an incredible amount of energy," said Mr Broun, a resident of the UAE for about 10 years. He urged the community to pray for his daughter.

On Friday, from Rashid Hospital's ICU unit, he tweeted pictures of Naraya to Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, hoping his daughter's favourite star, an observant family man, will pray with them.

"I really believe in the power of prayer," he said.

"I have friends who are very religious, Catholic, Muslim, Hindus, and this is crucial time. I want to get this out there to get as many people as possible to pray for her and send that energy.

"I went back to the gym and looked and tried to understand what happened. It was just a freak accident.

"I just hope she wakes up and she's fine. We can't know yet."

Updated: December 10, 2021, 2:50 PM