Grief, Horror Grip Brooklyn Community After 8-Year-Old Boy Dies in Freak Flower Box Accident

Stunned neighbors say little Kevin Reilly climbed up a gated window to get a basketball that landed in the flower box; the box then tumbled onto him

What to Know

  • The 8-year-old boy was climbing window bars at the home when he grabbed the concrete flower box and it came crashing down Thursday
  • The boy's mother screamed for someone to call 911 and neighbors tried to help, but the boy died at a hospital
  • Police said no criminality is suspected and that it was a freak accident

The 8-year-old boy killed by a concrete flower box in a freak accident as he played in his Brooklyn front yard Thursday was new to the neighborhood, residents say, and though they didn't know his family well, they're uniting to show their support in the wake of the horrifying tragedy.  

On Friday night, hundreds of lights flickered at the Gerritsen Park ball field as a tearful candlelight vigil was held in memory of little Kevin Reilly. 

"We're gonna do our best to get through this and we're gonna help the family as best we can," Frank Mignano, a friend of the boy's family, said. 

Reilly, or KJ as he's known, made a big impact on this close-knit community. His little league teammates and friends joined other mourners to remember the spunky kid and show support for his family.  

On Friday morning, just hours after Reilly's death, about a half-dozen candles adorned the sidewalk outside the Ryder Street home in Marine Park the boy lived in with his parents and two siblings.

Reilly had been playing basketball outside his home Thursday evening when the ball landed in a flower box outside a gated window, neighbors said. He tried to climb the window to retrieve it, and the 4-foot-long box, estimated to weigh at least 200 pounds, came loose and crashed down on him, killing him.

Neighbors said they saw the boy's mother screaming for someone to call 911 as she tried to pull her son out from underneath the heavy box. 

"She was trying to lift the piece, that stone, but she couldn't really lift it," Rahadul Kabir said. 

The family was too upset to speak Friday morning; a relative or friend said they're devastated and left the home to grieve privately with their two other kids. The yellow flower box still sat next to toys in the family's front yard. 

The buildings department is investigating, but authorities said there had been no prior issue with the Reilly planter. A quick canvass of the surrounding homes showed many had a similar flower box set-up. Some houses had a concrete flower box akin the one that killed Reilly; others had a wooden one.

"Who would have thought a potted plant would be so dangerous?" neighbor Theresa Rhatigan said. "It's awful."

June Penny, a neighbor whose children played with Reilly, described the little boy as an "old soul" who "lit up the block," saying hello to everyone, including adults. She said her home was one of the ones with the wooden planters. She said she hoped all the concrete ones would be removed. 

"A lot of these boxes have been here close to I think 50 years," Penny said. "They should either be bolted down or changed to wood." 

Another neighbor echoed that sentiment, saying the planters always felt unsafe. Of Reilly's death, the "block will never be the same," she said.

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