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Recalled Ikea dressers 'simply too dangerous,' top safety official says

WASHINGTON - In the 14 years since his son was crushed by an Ikea dresser, Rich Pierce had grown accustomed to rarely hearing Nicholas' name.

WASHINGTON - In the 14 years since his son was crushed by an Ikea dresser, Rich Pierce had grown accustomed to rarely hearing Nicholas' name.

Then, on Tuesday, his son's story was broadcast around the world.

Nicholas was one of six deaths to prompt the recall of 29 million Ikea dressers, described as among the most comprehensive safety remedies in U.S. history.

Hearing the news, Pierce paused to collect himself, then let out a simple "Wow." He said that at their next meal, his family would toast to Nicholas, who would have turned 17 this year.

"At the same time, I wish something was done years ago," Pierce, a North Jersey resident, said in an interview. "And maybe there'd be less names on that list."

In announcing the recall, Ikea and federal safety regulators cited six deaths since 1989, and more than 80 reports of Ikea dressers tipping over, dozens of times resulting in injuries to children. The recall applies to more than 100 product lines sold over the last two decades.

The retailer will in most cases offer buyers full refunds for the units, including the popular, low-cost Malm model, blamed in three toddler deaths since 2014. If customers want to keep the dressers, the company said, it will dispatch repair crews to their homes to properly secure the units to a wall.

"If you have or think you might have one of these products, please act immediately," Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye said at a news conference, where a team of safety engineers tipped over Ikea dressers to demonstrate the risk. "It is simply too dangerous. I repeat, it is too dangerous to have the recalled furniture in your home unanchored. Especially if you have young children."

Consumers with questions about the recall can call 866-856-4532 or visit

>>What to do if you own an Ikea dresser

The recall, first reported Monday by the Inquirer, applies to a substantial number of the dressers sold over the last two decades by the Swedish retail giant, whose U.S. headquarters are in Conshohocken.

Rob Olson, CFO of Ikea USA, who attended Tuesday's announcement, said the company had taken off the market about half its dressers - any that fail to meet industry safety standards - and would redesign them or design new ones that are more stable.

The recall extends beyond the 27 million dressers that Ikea warned last summer could become unstable if not tethered to a wall. That campaign drew sharp criticism from safety advocates, who said Ikea's offer to send anchoring kits to consumers was inadequate, and asked why regulators let the company continue to sell the unstable dressers.

Negotiations with the safety commission on a new recall picked up after a Minnesota toddler died in February when a Malm dresser toppled onto him, the third such death in two years.

The first toddler killed was 2-year-old Curren Collas of West Chester, whose story was chronicled in a 2015 Inquirer report on the threat posed by tip-overs of unanchored furniture and televisions.

Regulators on Tuesday also disclosed for the first time that they had received more than 80 reports of Malm and other Ikea dressers tipping over.

The recall will extend to Canada, where Ikea has sold 6.6 million dressers. Olson said the company would continue to send replacement wall anchors when requested but would not offer refunds or other incentives in other countries where Ikea sells its products.

Addressing criticism that Ikea sold dressers that failed stability tests, Olson said Ikea was committed to making compliant furniture. But he repeated that consumer awareness is more important than inherently stable design.

"The best solution, again, is to attach it to the wall," he said.

A coalition of safety and health advocates, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Federation of America, called the recall a "critically important" step, but sought to also keep the pressure on Ikea.

"Ikea must now pull out all the stops and do everything it can to ensure consumers know about the recall, are aware of their options, and can easily take action to make their homes safer," the groups said in a statement.

Jackie Collas, the West Chester mother whose son died in the 2014 Malm tip-over, has long pressed for the line to be recalled. When she heard it would be, she said, she sobbed.

Collas said her son is ever-present in her home, especially as her daughter Evy, born after Curren died, nears his age. Knowing that others continue to be affected by Curren's life has brought comfort, she said.

"I love that people are seeing him. I guess it's just because I love him so much," Collas said. "I love that he's out there helping other families."