NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 6-week-old baby died Thursday after a stroller plunged several floors down an elevator shaft in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, a visit to her grandmother’s apartment building on Neptune Avenue became the last thing Areej Ali ever did.
The girl’s 21-year-old mother pushed the button to call the elevator, sources told CBS2. The mother then pushed the baby in her stroller into the elevator on the 23rd floor. The car was several floors down, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
The stroller plunged down the empty elevator shaft, landing on top of the elevator car stopped on the 16th floor, sources said.
Police said the mother was on top of her daughter and stroller as the elevator went down seven floors.
An elevator mechanic who was on the scene heard the mother’s creams and pulled her off the top of the elevator car, sources said. He assisted the woman to the closest landing, sources said.
The mechanic did not remove the child, sources said.
When officers arrived, police said they found little Areej Ali unconscious and unresponsive. The baby was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital. The New York City Medical Examiner’s office will determine cause of death.
The baby’s grandfather, Salah Ali, was distraught.
“That’s my grandchild,” he said. “She was like a month old.”
Salah Ali had just returned from Coney Island Hospital when he spoke to CBS2’s Carlin. His daughter-in-law, the baby’s mother, was also being treated for injuries there.
She suffered physically, and even more so emotionally, Salah Ali said.
“She’s in bad shape,” he said.
Salah Ali said his son was also distraught.
“He’s in bad shape,” Ali said. “That’s his first child, only child.”
Neighbors said they’ve had trouble with the elevators in the past.
“Everybody is scared to take the elevator,” resident Harold Noel said. “I’m shocked right now. I don’t know what’s going on, I really don’t.”
“You press a button it don’t stop on that floor, doors open on any other floor, they’re old,” said resident Robert Whitley.
“I’ve been living here 30; almost 30 years,” said resident Nasser Hames. “This elevator’s always been a problem.”
Inspectors with the Department of Buildings joined police officers at the scene Thursday afternoon.
According to city records, the privately owned Sea Rise Apartments have 50 open building code violations, including four for the elevators, Jones reported. It is undergoing extensive outside remodeling.
A Department of Buildings representative told CBS2 late Thursday that inspectors will remain on the scene to conduct a full investigation, and will test all the elevators in the building.
The elevator in the Thursday incident passed an inspection in January, including a thorough inspection conducted once every five years involving weights, the DOB said.
The elevator involved in the incident also passed an inspection on Aug. 8. One non-hazardous violation was issued because the phone in the elevator did not work, but inspectors decided the elevator could go on operating, the DOB said.
The elevator that was affected by the incident will not be in use until the investigation is over, and other units in the building will be taken out of capacity in staggered order while they are tested, the DOB said.
In a statement, Mine Halpin of the International Union of Elevator Constructors Union Local 1 said: “This horrible and unfortunate death of an innocent child is yet another example of the need for greater accountability throughout New York’s elevator industry. Education and training standards, which currently aren’t required of elevator mechanics, must become a law in this state.”
The elevator was out of service when the child fell.
There is criminal investigation in the case, and police believe the fall was accidental.