A 6-year-old boy was critically injured and required emergency surgery after falling down an elevator shaft in his Bronx apartment building, police say.
NYPD and FDNY responded to a call at around 12:46 p.m. reporting the incident which took place inside a Grand Concourse building. Police said that the boy was home with his grandfather and a caretaker at the time
The grandfather said that he was in the bedroom and the caretaker went to the bathroom at one point, and it took the boy less than a minute to open the front door and take off.
"I am shattered," the grandfather said. The family identified the boy as Matthew Mendoza, who they said has autism.
The first-floor unit has several locks on the door, according to police. The family said that was because Matthew had gotten out before.
Police used surveillance cameras in the building to track the child's steps, and believe that the child made it up past the sixth floor and to the roof, then somehow slipped through a tiny opening on top of the elevator shaft, and onto the elevator.
When first responders arrived, they found the unconscious child on top of the elevator, which was located in the basement of the building, firefighters say.
Police say they aren't sure how far the child fell because they haven't been able to determine where the elevator was at the time, but the boy fell on top of the elevator, badly injuring himself.
The boy suffered skull fractures and other trauma to his body, and was taken to Harlem Hospital in critical condition. Despite the severity of the injuries, there were growing hopes late Thursday evening that the boy would survive.
Inspectors with the NYC Department of Buildings were on scene as they also conducted their investigation into the incident, the department said. The DOB was looking into whether there were any issues or noncompliant conditions with the elevator doors leading into the shaft way, in order to see how the child may have gained access to the area.
Police say the boy's grandfather and a home attendant were present at the time of the incident.
The investigation is ongoing.