Skip to comments.Boy crushed by gate his first time out alone (Illinois)
Posted on 06/29/2008 6:56:17 PM PDT by Graybeard58
CABRINI-GREEN | Mom watches as gate crushes 3-year-old son
At 3 years old, Curtis Cooper thought himself invincible.
He'd fashion a towel into a cape, and called himself Super Curtis.
But mom Pamela Cooper knew he wasn't invincible. So despite her family ribbing her about being overprotective, she never let the boy play outside without her.
Until Friday, when she let her son ride his tricycle outside his Cabrini-Green row home alone, she said.
As the 22-year-old mother watched from a window, a gate weighing hundreds of pounds broke from its hinge, fell atop the boy and killed him, Cooper's family said.
"So much stuff happens [in the development] . . . ," Cooper said Saturday, her thoughts trailing off.
As officials tried a day later to piece together the chain of events leading to Friday's tragedy in the Near North Side public housing development, condolences streamed in from all corners.
Speaking at an unrelated event Saturday, Mayor Daley promised an investigation of the incident.
"I don't have all the facts," he said. "Accidents do take place, in and around construction, and we'll find out . . . what happened."
Chicago Housing Authority spokesman Derek Hill said the agency is sifting through accounts of how the gate came to crush little Curtis as he rode his trike in the back of the home in the 900 block of North Cambridge.
The property, currently under renovation, is managed by the clout-heavy Urban Property Advisors (UPA).
"[CHA's CEO] Lewis Jordan and the CHA give our deepest sympathy to the family," Hill said. "We're waiting for the results of the investigation."
The Cooper family has retained retired Circuit Court Judge Llwellyn L. Thapedi and her son Andre Thapedi to represent them.
One witness said Friday she heard a noise that she believed may have been the 7-foot-tall iron gate's hinge breaking, before it fell atop the toddler.
"He wasn't out there for five minutes," said his grandmother, Velma Wade. "We figured the back was safer than the front."
The gate was one of many placed on both sides of communal backyard areas shared by the row homes. On Friday, some were chained to their sideposts because the hinges were broken. A witness said the one that fell was not chained, but that the bottom hinge was not connected.
"The gate's been like that," Curtis' aunt, Lisa Springfield, said. "You can see the parts rusted."
On Friday, a UPA regional manager said all of the gates that were not sturdy would be removed. And Saturday, authorities were out taking some down.
That totally breaks my heart. Only a parent could understand that. What a tragedy.
Tough, prayers for the family.
Sad. You can’t take your eyes off a 3 year old even for a little bit but it sounds as if this could have happened even if someone were watching him closely.
I can’t wait for the asshat crew to get here and say how it’s someone’s negligence and the family deserved it and that having any sympathy from afar is fake and self serving.
We got some real beauties on this forum.
Prayers for the family. I feel really bad for the family, mainly because it pretty much looks like a freak accident happenstance that is hard to prevent.
No one should outlive their children. My parents grieved for years after my older brother died.
I grieve for this unfortunate family and their friends.
While Chicago and the state of Illinois continue to place their emphasis on disarming law-abiding citizens.
Cabrini-Green has been a death trap as long as it has been in existance.
My heart breaks for this family....prayers up
God Bless them all.
Everyone called my little one, “the Boy in the Bubble”, he was very sickly as a child.
Never take your eyes off of your kid!
Even as careful as a parent can be an unforeseen tragedy could strike. I pray to God that He will comfort this poor mother and not let her blame herself.
Man that is so sad.
CABRINI-GREEN, I think that was the area back in the early 70’s cops would not even drive into there it was so bad.
How terrible. This was obviously a very loving and careful mother, and it sounds as though Super Curtis was an adorable, and adored, little boy. I guess it won’t comfort the suffering mother to know that Curtis is waiting for her in heaven and there is nothing she could have done to prevent this—even if she were standing next to him, the poor child would have died.
You wonder sometimes why God allows this sort of thing.
What a horrible tragedy. How sad. How very sad. The mother was protecting her little one then decided to let him ride his bike out back and THIS happens? Wow, Beyond words. Prayers for the family who lost this precious little angel.
Oh, that poor mother. My heart and prayers go out to her. That just breaks the heart.
The family nor the child deserved this.
Housing authority negligence in deferred maintenance, if any, is a different issue altogether.
That is so sad. Not sure if mom being out there would have prevented anything. When we would watch the kids (ended up putting up a nice bench and planted some flowers out by the street) we were watchful of cars and strangers. But I don’t think a gate would have been on the list of things to look out for.
However, we did have a mailbox stand with 5 boxes that was rotted out and wobbly right where the kids played - and where we tied up the dog. I’m sure it would have been quite a while by the time the post office, or the city, or whoever came to fix it. I fixed it one Saturday.
The one down the street layed in the sidewalk for two weeks after it came down in a snowstorm. I imagine everyone at that end figured “it’s not MY problem”. Government sponsored things tend to motivate that attitude. And legally - it probably wasn’t their problem. Just like this gate wasn’t the grieving mom’s problem. (Heck, maybe I could even be fined for “Tampering with Federal Property” by fixing our multi-box stand!)
All of that said, I can’t imagine the horror for this family. I hope that the mom doesn’t end up blaming herself for this, I really don’t think she could have prevented this tragedy at that moment.
Not sure about your mail box situation but when my moron grand son ran over mine, I had to replace it. Dead of winter, forget about a post hole digger in that frozen ground, rented an augur and bought the mail box, post and concrete to place it in.
My mail man was nice about it, he brought my mail to the door for a few days until I replaced it. We’ve had the same mail man for 16 years and we are on a first name basis. It helps too that we always get him a Christmas present.
The odds are just unbelievable. Even if she were right there a gate weighing that much would have probably got her too.