Yakim McDaniels, 12, died on Sunday afternoon after getting entangled and then crushed in a metal security gate as it rolled open.
The boy had been playing a game of 'chicken' with five other children on Lott Avenue in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., reports the Daily News. The kids had triggered a sensor to make the gate lift up from the ground, rolling into itself as it went. Three boys hung onto the rising gate, apparently competing to be the last to let go of the structure--to jump off in the nick of time before being crushed at the top of the automatic machine.
But McDaniels' hand got stuck in the machine somehow. He could not extract himself before his upper body was pulled into the mechanism and crushed. When family members were alerted, they rushed to the scene only to find the boy's legs dangling from the structure.
Witness Reinaldo Blandon, 31, described the horrific scene to New York Daily News. He was screaming and screaming and he got caught up on the top of the gate. From his head to the back of his shoulders went under. Then he stopped yelling. When Yakim's mother Doris Chase arrived, continued Blandon, she was crying and screaming.
Chase later expressed her bereavement and confusion. I don't know if someone played dare or asked him to go up there. I just seen my son's feet hanging down, and his head. That's all I seen.
The New York Fire Department arrived on the scene to cut through the machine and free Yakim McDaniels, but they were too late to save him. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Some witnesses confirmed that playing 'chicken' with the mechanical gate was a popular practice with children in the area, despite adults' repeated warnings that it was not safe.
The automatic gates were first installed around a neighborhood apartment complex by Omni New York LLC, which runs the property. Some residents are blaming Omni for installing the gates without installing a safe place for children to play.
Karene Miller, a 34-year-old resident of the complex, told the New York Daily News that she has long been complaining about the gates to management. It's a very dangerous situation. I always told the kids to stop playing there, she said. They wouldn't listen.
Omni officials are reportedly speaking with local authorities about the possibility of building recreational areas for children. Omni's standpoint is we send our heartfelt condolences and sympathy toward the family, said Omni office manager Arleigh Hardy. It's just a tragic accident.
A makeshift memorial with flowers and candles has sprung up around the gate where Yakim McDaniels met his tragic end.
Yakim, a middle school student and the second oldest of six children, was a lovely person, said Yakim's mother to the New York Times. He never, ever got into trouble.