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A 12-year-old Brooklyn boy was crushed to death when he got caught in an electronic roll-up gate where he was playing. Now his neighbors wonder if the accident could have been prevented. Ida Siegal reports.
A day after a 12-year-old Brooklyn boy was crushed to death in an electronic roll-up gate, neighbors said they wondered if the tragedy could have been prevented.
Witnesses say Yakim McDaniels was horsing around on the gate on Lott Avenue in Brownsville with some friends Sunday, trying to hang on as the gate went up and down. The boy's hand got caught in the parking lot gate as it started to rise and he was crushed.
"He was OK at first, but then the gate was rolling up and it went so high that he didn't want to jump down," said 10-year-old Savanah Burgess, one of several children who saw the boy get caught.
The boy's upper body became wedged in the top part of the gate's frame and rescue crews had to cut through the metal to get him out. He was pronounced dead at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center.
On Monday, some questioned how -- and why -- the gate was able to support a body hanging on to it as it rose up.
Reshef Rosenthal, who runs All Day Locks and Gates in Astoria, did not see or install the Lott Avenue gate, but said most mechanical gates in New York are set to freeze or come down the minute they detect excess weight.
"The second somebody will hang on it, the relay automatically will sense that there is too much weight on the door, and the door will automatically drop to the floor," he said.
Police are still investigating what exactly happened as McDaniel hung on the gate. But some neighbors said the kids were often warned by adults not to play there.
"I myself told them to stop doing it," said Larry Cortez, a superintendent in the building across the street. "It's just tragic that it happened."
Others have complained of an ongoing rift with the company that manages the buildings where the accident happened. They say their repeated efforts to set up recreation space have been turned down.
"We have nothing to play on, nothing," said one woman. "It's like a jail in here."
Neighbor Jeffrey Roberts said he was told he couldn't put up a basketball hoop because the building's management did not want to be responsible for it.
"They don't have no liability," said Roberts. "They don't have no insurance. If somebody gets hurt on this rim, they ain't have no money to pay."
A spokeswoman for the building complex owners, Omni New York LLC, said there is a playground on site, on the other end of the property. She said the owners are discussing adding an additional playground.
The company is paying for the boy's funeral expenses, and said in a statement it "extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of Yakim McDaniels as they grieve the tragic loss of their loved one."
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