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UPDATE (03/19/2014): This story now includes the statement from Any Hour Services.
OREM — A Utah family is upset by an ad that they claim is insensitive, and they want to warn parents about the hidden danger that lurks for their small children in bathrooms.
The ad from Any Hour Services has been circulating in mailers, and features a toddler next to a toilet and holding a rubber ducky. The slogan says: “No job too small, we fix it all.”
Vince and Lark Martinez said Tuesday the ad hits too close to home and the death of their son.
In 1994, their then-14-month-old son Tregory leaned over the toilet bowl too far, fell in and couldn’t pull himself out. He suffered massive brain damage, and after a long fight for his life, ultimately died.
“This just came as complete devastation,” Lark Martinez said. “We had to hop the baby gate with him, because that’s just how safety conscious we are.”
Vince Martinez said it was one safety measure they had simply overlooked.
“You can’t protect yourself against something you haven’t heard of,” Lark Martinez said Tuesday.
The dangers of it, and the fact that people just are unaware in every single home this danger exists.
The advertisement, the couple said, brought those painful memories flooding back.
“The dangers of it,” Lark Martinez continued, “and the fact that people just are unaware in every single home this danger exists.”
Martinez said she called Any Hour Services to voice her concerns, and reached what she described as a marketing director, who told her he was sorry about what happened to her, but couldn’t guarantee the picture wouldn’t run again in an ad.
According to Martinez, the worker described the photos depicting children next to a toilet as “cute and relatable.”
Martinez’s subsequent calls to the company’s president had not been returned, she said.
“It has to stop,” she said. “The pictures need to be removed. This cannot be a message that is sent to parents that this is a safe activity for your small child.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission routinely warns about children playing around toilets and other potential bathroom hazards.
The commission has recorded dozens of child injuries and deaths in the toilet over the past two decades, and now recommends parents of young children install locks on toilet seat covers.
When Martinez called Any Hour to voice her concerns, she didn't get a solid answer about the ad. But Wednesday morning, KSL talked with the owner and president, Wyatt Hepworth, who issued the following statement:
"Vince and Lark Martinez had a tragic experience 19 years ago and we are saddened that our advertisement reminded them of their tragedy. As the owner of Any Hour Electric, Plumbing, Heating and Air, I will be calling them to apologize and to let them know that we will be pulling the ads. We did not know that we could hurt feelings over the ad piece. We feel very badly for the loss of this family. I will personally call them today."
Wyatt told KSL he tried to call repeatedly Tuesday night to offer his side of the story. When KSL tracked back through communications it was discovered that he had been given the incorrect number for the KSL newsroom.