A 3-year-old girl was killed by a heavy meat security door in front of an Italian ice shop in Philadelphia, the Christian Science Monitor reported Monday. Dozens of people pitched in to try to rescue the girl but it was of no use.
The girl was with her mother at a fundraiser in the shop for a sorority and fraternity on Saturday when she was hit and trapped by a falling great at Rita’s Water Ice store.
Click here for an updated story with the girl's identity and more reaction from neighbors's and witnesses.
Philly.com reports that the girl was killed when the security grate suddenly became detached and fell.
Dozens of people who packed the shop tried to help but those efforts proved to be in vain. She was eventually freed from the grate but she was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Hahnemann University Hospital.
Police said that members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity heroically rushed to get the girl out from under the grate and give her CPR,.
"It took about 20 to 30 men to get that awning off of the baby," witness Tracey Stanford told KYW-TV. "When they finally got it up off of her, she was just lying there, lifeless."
The Italian ice shop was not in violation of any permitting laws. Carlton Williams, commissioner of the Department of Licenses and Inspections, said the store had no open violations and there were no problems reported with the shop’s security gate.
"The Department of Licenses and Inspections will only inspect these gates upon report of a complaint of an apparent defect," Williams said, noting that property owners are responsible for their maintenance, care and inspection.
Police Inspector Christine Coulter said investigators will be looking at other shops in the area to make sure that there are no potential safety issues with security gates. Police added that they have seen no similar incidents.
The tragic scene showed incongruous images of pink balloons underneath the security gate which is typically rolled up after a business closes to prevent burglaries.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the child's family," said Linda Duke, a spokeswoman for Rita's Italian Ice, the shop's parent company. "Due to the current investigation we really cannot comment about the unfortunate incident."
Authorities say it could be several weeks before the results of the investigation into this tragedy is complete. They have already examined the security door very carefully to try to figure out what went wrong.
Meanwhile, a growing makeshift memorial for the little girl continues to grow outside the shop. People are stopping by to leave flowers, teddy bears and other things that they hope will be of some comfort to the family.