What to Know
- A 5-year-old girl was killed by a decorative stone fence that fell on her when she pulled it in Brooklyn Thursday, police say
- The child was walking with her mother on Harman Street in Bushwick when they came upon the fence; parts fell on her, knocking her to ground
- She had head trauma and was pronounced dead at a hospital; she's been identified as Alysson Pinto-Chaumana
A 5-year-old girl was killed as she walked by a stone fence in Brooklyn Thursday, a freak accident that happened right in front of her mother, authorities say.
The girl, identified as Alysson Pinto-Chaumana, was walking with her mom along Harman Street in Bushwick shortly before 11 a.m. when they came upon the fence, which is more a row of heavy marble pillars with a shelf on top than a traditional fence. She pulled on it -- and continued to do so -- and parts of the fence came undone and hit her, knocking her to the ground. The child suffered head trauma.
A neighbor said he heard the impact and heard the mother scream so rushed outside to help. An ambulance happened to be passing by and they flagged it down, rushing the child into an ambulance. The child, who had severe head trauma, was pronounced dead at a hospital. The neighbor described her injuries as "just horrific;" another man said his wife was traumatized by witnessing it.
The little girl's mother recounted the tragic incident saying they were in the area visiting a relative when the girl was playing near the decorative stone fence, when it suddenly toppled over, on top of her daughter.
"I saw it all come down, crushing her head", the mother Maria Lorena Chauman recounted in Spanish, inconsolable, while holding a photo of her little girl. "I desperately picked her up -- I picked up my daughter, crying out to her."
She said she ran with the "bleeding" girl in her arms to the ambulance she saw nearby.
"Why did you have to leave me?" Chauman cried, adding that she was a single mother who solely lived for her daughter who was set to start kindergarten in the upcoming days. "My life. My love. She was so smart."
The horrific event will remain engraved in Chauman's memory, she said.
"I saw it all with my own eyes and I will never forget. I can't forget," she said.
The Department of Buildings said it was called to the scene outside the residential three-family home; it determined the 3-foot-tall by 6-foot-long ornamental granite fence in the front yard fell over and hit the little girl.
The agency issued a violation to the property owner for failure to maintain the property, it said Friday. DOB said it found the remaining part of the fence that was still standing was loose and presented a potential hazard, so it ordered the property owner to dismantle the fence once its investigation is complete.
The agency said the sidewalk in front of the property has been closed off until the remaining fence is taken down; it also said it may take additional enforcement actions pending the final results of its probe. The DOB noted it had never received a complaint about the fence prior to the girl's death. Online records indicate no prior outstanding facade violations at the location.
The homeowner tells News 4 the family spent $40,000 on the new fence; they said they contracted it out and had a permit to do so.
Chopper 4 over the scene showed the area cordoned off by police tape early Friday. Large bricks or stones were scattered on the ground. It wasn't clear how much the stone fence weighed, but police described it as heavy.