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Brooklyn building where 6-week-old baby fell to death down elevator shaft has 50 open violations

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 14/10/2016 EDGAR SANDOVAL, GREG B. SMITH, THOMAS TRACY
The tot fell eight stories from the 23rd floor of the Sea Rise apartments on Neptune Ave. near W. 37th St. in Coney Island. - Todd Maisel/New York Daily News © Todd Maisel/New York Daily News The tot fell eight stories from the 23rd floor of the Sea Rise apartments on Neptune Ave. near W. 37th St. in Coney Island. - Todd Maisel/New York Daily News

A 6-week-old girl died Thursday when her stroller plunged eight stories down an elevator shaft at a Brooklyn building plagued with maintenance violations, officials said.

The stroller carrying little Areej Ali rolled from her 21-year-old mother’s grasp just as the elevator doors opened on the 23rd floor of the Sea Rise apartments on Neptune Ave. near W. 37th St. in Coney Island about 10:30 a.m., officials said.

First responders were horrified over what they saw upon arriving at the scene.

“It’s not something I’m going to forget,” said a visibly shaken firefighter said after he helped pull the infant from the shaft.

The baby and stroller landed on top of the elevator car, which was eight stories down on the 15th floor. Paramedics rushed Areej to Coney Island Hospital but she could not be saved, officials said.

“I can’t believe it,” said the infant’s horrified grandfather. “She died in the hospital. She’s new. The mom is in bad shape.”

The building has been the subject of some 20 complaints about out-of-service elevators since January 2015 through as recently as last month, according to city records. The building currently has 50 open building code violations, including four elevator violations.

The baby's mother said the stroller fell when the elevator doors opened and there was no lift waiting. - Todd Maisel/New York Daily News © Provided by New York Daily News The baby's mother said the stroller fell when the elevator doors opened and there was no lift waiting. - Todd Maisel/New York Daily News

Police were told that the elevator — which had been maintained by the Centennial Elevator Company — had recently been put out of service but it was not immediately clear if someone was working on the lift Thursday.

Building resident Elaina Feliciano, 33, was gripping her 2-year-old son Jaden a little tighter after hearing about the baby’s death.

“My heart is really bleeding for them,” the bus matron and mother of four said. “This always happens in this building — they come in to fix the elevator and a week later it’s broken again. I have a 2-year-old. I have to look out for him.”

The building is in the middle of a large reconstruction project, tenants said.

Harold Noel, 37, lives next door to little Areej’s family — and had taken the faulty elevator that morning when he took his son to school.

“It was a little shaky,” he said. “I thought it was because of the construction going on. My wife called me and said, ‘Our neighbor fell down the elevator.’”

“Nobody trusts those elevators,” he added. “Everybody is scared to take that elevator. There's always problems. My own mom almost died in that elevator years ago."

The last inspection of the elevators took place in August when a “defect” was noted, records show. It was not immediately clear what the defect was.

A Sept. 25 complaint noted that "both elevators (were) not working" in the building, while a Sept. 30 complaint stated that one elevator was out. During the summer, one of the elevators was used by construction workers to haul up material, the records show.

Many of the complaints note that the building houses seniors and tenants in wheelchairs.

"There are many seniors and a few in wheelchairs ... making it impossible for them to get into their apartments,” a Jan. 24 complaint read.

Both the NYPD and the Department of Buildings were on hand Thursday investigating the baby’s death.


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