Woman, 5-Year-Old Child Hurt Badly; Cause Of Incident Debated

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — You pass them every day, on the front of nearly every store and business — heavy metal security gates, rigid and unyielding.

But on Thursday night one came tumbling down, collapsing right on top of a woman and child as they were walking through Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Sparks flew as workers took apart and then removed the crippled steel gate. Emergency crews converged on the scene at 225 5th Avenue — outside the 5th Avenue Cat Clinic — shortly after the incident occurred around 4:15 p.m. The weight of the gate was so great a machine was needed to lift it.

“She got hit on the head. She got a very bad gash, blood all over her face, her chest,” witness Christine Castellano told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

The victim, who was said to be in her 50s, was walking with a 5-year-old boy she was babysitting. He was also hurt.

“In his left leg, right above the ankle, the leg looked a little crushed,” Castellano said.

Emergency crews rushed to the scene, along with the boy’s mother.

“She went under the police tape, and was like what’s going on? The look on her face was very distraught. It was hard for me to watch that,” one person said.

The woman was listed in critical condition, while the child was in serious condition at a local hospital. Meanwhile, investigators said they are eyeing age as the primary factor why the gate fell over like a tree.

“It’s probably been up 30-40 years. Between salt, the rain, the water, probably what caused this to fall,” said Duane Rose of the city’s Office of Emergency Management.

The building is owned by 4G Realty of Park Slope. On Thursday night, a representative for the owner spoke with investigators, and then deflected responsibility.

“It is not my responsibility to inspect that gate. It is the responsibility of the store owner,” the representative said.

But a source with the Department of Buildings told Hennessey security gates are, indeed, the building owner’s responsibility. Interestingly, the gates aren’t inspected by the city because “It’s not a permitted part of the building…” but are considered cosmetic and therefore, there is “….no mechanism to periodically inspect them.”

While security gates are everywhere we look, they aren’t on most of our minds.

“Not at all. The last thing I would ever think of walking down the street is that something like this would fall of the side of a building and hit me,” resident Jonathon Fuchs said.

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