Two toddlers were killed by a radiator malfunction in a Hunts Point building on Wednesday, December 7.
The two girls were in a first floor apartment at 720 Hunts Point Avenue when a malfunctioning pressure valve let off steam, causing the children to go into cardiac arrest, with major burns, according to published reports.
The incident occurred at approximately 12:20 p.m., with the two girls transported to Lincoln Hospital, according to police.
They have been identified as Scylee Vayoh Ambrose, who was one-year-old and Ibanez Ambrose, a two- year-old, according to the NYPD.
The apartment where the incident occurred is part of the city’s cluster-site program for temporary homeless housing in privately owned buildings.
Local elected officials responded to the tragedy shortly after the incident by calling for a full investigation.
“We are in the preliminary stages of what is a highly active, multi-agency investigation into what happened in this home and whether there’s anything that can be done to help prevent such an unspeakable event in the future,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. shortly after the incident. “Our law enforcement, buildings, fire and social services personnel will not rest until we can answer what has given rise to this heartbreaking incident.”
Councilman Rafael Salamanca, in response to the deaths, said that the New York City Council would hold oversight hearings into the Hunts Point tragedy.
“While this may have been a ‘freak accident’, I believe that city leaders still have the ability and the authority to make changes that could help to prevent this from happening in the future,” stated Salamanca.
“This was a cluster site, but obviously it could happen anywhere.”
He will also introduce legislation aimed at preventing similar mishaps, he stated.
“I’m proposing some pragmatic solutions that I hope we can work on in the coming weeks to help prevent something like this from happening again,” stated the councilman.
The councilman’s legislation will deal with requiring inspection of radiators, regulations covering radiator covers or barriers and a plan to require any landlord with ‘C’ violations or stop work orders from receiving contracts from the NYC Department of Homeless Services to house families.
Mayor de Blasio addressed the situation shortly after the incident on Thursday, December 8 at an event in Bayside, Queens.
According to de Blasio, the last semi-annual DHS shelter inspection of the building took place a month ago.
The NYC Department of Buildings, however, lists a variety of violations since the 1980s, but none involving the heating system.
“We do not see any precedent in anything that has happened before, said the mayor. “This was a freak accident, a series of painful coincidences that led to the loss of these children.”
The mayor said it is very natural that New Yorkers be concerned about radiators but he has no evidence of something like this specific incident happening in the past.
The mayor called for a full investigation.
Part of this story was published in the Bronx Times’s sister paper, the Queens Times Ledger.