Boy, 6, Critically Hurt After Plunging Down Elevator Shaft in the Bronx

A 6-year-old boy was in critical condition on Thursday after plunging from the roof of a six-story Bronx building down an elevator shaft, the police and fire officials said.

The boy was unconscious when officers and firefighters, responding to a 911 call at around 12:45 p.m., found him on top of an elevator in the basement of the building, on Grand Concourse near East 168th Street, officials said.

His skull was fractured and he had injuries to his body, officials said. He was taken to Harlem Hospital Center for treatment.

The boy, whose name the authorities did not immediately release, was in his first-floor apartment on Thursday with a home attendant who was there to care for him, officials said. His grandfather was also there, officials said. His mother was at work.

At some point, the police said, the grandfather heard the apartment’s front door slam, got up to see what was going on and noticed that the boy was gone.

With the help of security video, investigators determined that the boy climbed the stairs to the sixth floor, and then went up to the roof via a second staircase. When he got there, he opened an unlocked door to the elevator shaft, the police said.

While a grate sits behind the elevator door and covers the shaft, there is a roughly half-foot gap, which the boy fell through, the police said. It was unclear which floor the elevator was on when the boy fell.

Monica Villalta, who lives on the building’s fourth floor, said the boy had appeared at her apartment a few times in recent months.

“He came, like, twice to my door and rang the bell,” Ms. Villalta said. “He came in, and I had to take him out.” In at least one instance, she said, the boy’s grandfather was close behind .

“I thought he was lost but no, his grandfather told me that he does that,” she said. He told her that the family had tried changing the locks on their door to keep the boy from wandering off, but that he had learned how to unlock them.

Conditions at the building, at 1235 Grand Concourse, have been the source of dozens of complaints over several decades, including several violations involving elevators, New York City Buildings Department records show.

Three elevator-related violations dating to 2020 and 2021 had not been resolved as of Thursday, records show. The violations involved “nonhazardous” defects found by a private elevator inspector during routine inspections required under city law.

In one case, two elevators lacked a system meant tostop them from moving when the doors were open, a Buildings Department spokeswoman said, but noted the system was installed in both elevators last year. In another instance, an elevator’s ventilation fan was not working properly.

Inspectors have issued more than 40 other violation notices involving elevators at the building since 1989, records show. All of them were either dismissed or resolved.

The building where the boy fell had been cited for numerous violations over the years, including several related to elevators.Credit…David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

Building department records also show complaints about a lack of heat or hot water in the building as recently as this month, as well as in November and December. There are 28 open violations involving cracked bathroom walls or floors, defective smoke detectors and radiators and potential lead paint. In 2018, records show, inspectors found cracked windows, crumbling bricks on the building’s exterior and objects on the fire escape.

The Buildings Department spokeswoman said inspectors were at the property on Thursday and were investigating how the boy got access to the elevator shaft, including whether there were problems with doors leading to the shaft.

City records and court filings indicate that the building is a co-op with the 1235 Concourse Tenants Corporation listed as an owner and Michael Goldberg identified as president.

A woman who answered the telephone at a business that shares an address with the corporation said Mr. Goldberg was traveling on Thursday. He did not immediately respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.

In a lawsuit filed against Mr. Goldberg in 2019, people who identified themselves as residents of the building accused him of buying up shares in the property with the goal of improperly trying to take control of it. The suit remains active.

A lawyer for Mr. Goldberg and the corporation declined to comment

Speaking outside the building on Thursday, Ray Sebastian, a resident, described it as “well maintained” and “beautiful.” He said he did not have any major problems with the property’s condition, nor had he heard complaints from others.

In a city of elevators, the cabs and the shafts they travel through have occasionally proven to be dangerous, and even lethal, with children sometimes the victims.

In 2014, a 12-year-old girl was seriously injured when she fell about 35 feet down an elevator shaft at a SoHo co-op. In 2016, a 4-year-old boy died after falling down an elevator shaft at a Brooklyn parking garage.

Later that year, a 6-week-old girl in a stroller plunged eight stories to her death in an elevator shaft at a Brooklyn high-rise. Her mother had called the elevator to the 23rd floor and when the door opened, she pushed the stroller in. To the mother’s horror, the elevator was not there. It had stopped at the 15th floor.

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