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Girl, 3, killed in accident with security gate

New York residents likely heard about the tragedy that occurred last month in Philadelphia when a 3-year-old girl was killed by a heavy security gate that fell on her. She and her mother were at Rita's Water Ice in north Philly when the metal gate detached from the store’s facade and crushed her.

Despite dozens of patrons rushing to lift the massive structure off the child and engaging in CPR efforts, the girl was pronounced dead at Hahnemann University Hospital. On the day of the fatal accident, the business was crowded with members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and sorority who were at the Italian ice shop for a fundraiser when the accident occurred. One witness told KYW-TV, "It took about 20 to 30 men to get that awning off of the baby. When they finally got it up off of her, she was just lying there, lifeless."

Investigators are trying to discern what caused the gate to come loose and crash down on the girl. The commissioner of the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections indicated in an email that the store had not reported any type of problems with the security gate and that the shop had no open violations. He stated that the department conducts inspections upon receiving complaints of defects and that individual property owners are liable for the care, maintenance and inspection of the security gates that front almost every urban business.

A spokeswoman for the parent company of the business said that because of the ongoing investigation they were unable to comment about the incident, but that their “hearts and prayers go out to the child's family."

Property owners are ultimately responsible for maintaining their premises to prevent injuries or death to their customers. While no amount of compensation can ever replace a life, survivors can turn to the civil court system for financial compensation should they choose to pursue a claim for damages.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "Door kills girl in Philadelphia Italian ice shop tragedy," June 30, 2014

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