Last month, a community mourned the tragic death of seven-year-old Zhanaye Williams of Tampa, Florida. On her way to the school bus stop the morning of April 11 with other students, the heavy iron entrance gate to the community fell on her, crushing her small body. She died hours later of head injuries at St Joseph’s Hospital.
Local 10 News reported on a sentiment held by many in the community, expressed by resident Cashawnna Moore, “It shouldn’t take a child to die for them to fix the gates.” Resident Aloonza Pettway heard the terrified screams of the other children who could do nothing to help Zhanaye. The gate was so heavy that even four adults who tried to help the girl had difficulty lifting it from her broken body.
Broken Gate Left Unrepaired
Residents of the complex had complained repeatedly about maintenance problems including the gate, but nothing was done. This lack of action on the part of the apartment managers is inexcusable.
In a separate report, the news station detailed how the tragedy took place. Being a playful child, Zhanaye had been standing on the wheeled gate’s bottom rung, swinging it back and forth. The gate began to tip, but she could not get away quickly enough. Her big brother Christian could do nothing but watch the gate crush his little sister, leaving her unconscious and bleeding on the ground.
Negligent Apartment Managers to Blame
Apartment managers have a legal responsibility to protect residents from known dangers. Previous complaints about the condition of the gate prove the managers knew of the danger. In addition, the Tampa Bay Times reported that at least one resident had seen children playing on the gate before.
The managers at the apartment failed in their duty to protect residents when the obvious and known danger was left unrepaired. The gate was intended to open and close for cars via automatic motion sensors but according to residents, it had been broken for years. A single chain held the gate onto the surrounding fence. Such a precarious condition should never be left unchecked when the safety of children is at stake.
Police are still investigating the incident and have not yet make a final determination or filed charges. Meanwhile, the family waits in limbo, unable to find closure for their tragic loss.
There is nothing anyone can do to bring back Zhanaye, but justice can be done for families in similar situations. If you or someone you love suffered a tragedy at the hands of a negligent person or company, contact our office for a free consultation and evaluation of your case. The law limits the time available to file a claim, so contact us soon. We will review your case and help you decide if filing suit is the right course of action for you.