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The Boston Globe

Metro

Toddler dies after fall from Dorchester apartment building

A 2-year-old boy who fell to his death from a Dorchester apartment building Wednesday morning apparently wandered away unnoticed from a day-care center on the first floor and climbed four stories before opening a door to the roof and tumbling to his death, a Boston city councilor said.

“Unfortunately, it sounds like the child was at some point left unattended,” said Councilor Tito Jackson, who visited the scene. “Sadly, part of our future is gone today.”

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The child fell from the building located at 131 Columbia Road, and his family identified him as Daylan Walker in an interview Wednesday night at their Grove Hall home.

“This is a nightmare,” said Walker’s grandmother, Lucrecia Rivera, 42, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter.

Rivera wept as she said that Daylan had cried Wednesday morning when she dropped him off at the center, and told her that he did not want to be left there.

“My only grandson, the light of this house,” Rivera said. “Where was I to save you from all these dangers? . . . I would have rather died myself instead of him.”

The child suffered fatal trauma after falling from a building, said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, citing preliminary evidence.

Daylan Walker.

Daylan Walker.

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Boston police Superintendent in Chief William G. Gross, who was at the scene, said that police officers arrived just before 10 a.m. and found the boy lying on the pavement behind the building. The child was immediately taken to Boston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Gross said.

Police Sergeant Michael McCarthy said he could not confirm that the child had left the day-care center and fallen from the roof because the investigation was still ongoing, but said, “We’re looking into that as a possibility of how it happened.”

A violation report from the city’s Inspectional Services Department dated May 28 found that the door that leads to the roof must be “manually slammed shut to engage panic hardware.”

The violation was written after the child fell, according to a spokeswoman. The head of the corporation that owns the building declined to comment on the violation report.

“We’re deeply saddened by the tragedy and are cooperating with all the authorities,” said Christal Kornegay, president and chief executive officer of Urban Edge.

Yesenia Sanchez, the girlfriend of Daylan’s uncle, said she had recommended the day-care center to the boy’s mother, Leonela Rivera, because her best friend’s daughters have gone there for at least two years and she had only heard good things.

She said she was shocked when she learned what had happened. “I could not believe what I was listening to,” Sanchez said. “No words came out of my mouth. I was just completely speechless.”

A woman who lives in a neighboring building described a horrifying scene after Daylan fell. Shanitqua Steele, 23, said that as she arrived home after dropping her 2-year-old son off at school, she heard sirens and saw neighbors looking outside 131 Columbia Road. She ran down the street and saw a toddler lying face-down at the base of the apartment. Soon emergency workers reached the boy and turned him over, she said, and took off his clothes to check his body.

“I was like, ‘Oh, God, this is a baby; he still has a diaper on,’ ” she said. The boy did not move, she said, but his eyes were open as he was loaded into an ambulance. Emergency workers were asking him his name, she said. “The first thing I thought is, ‘This could have been my kid.’ I wish I would have seen something and tried to catch him. You don’t want to see that happen.”

On Wednesday afternoon, parents and caretakers arrived in the light rain to pick up their children from the day-care center. One woman ran into the building, her hand pressed to her chest, saying, “My baby.” A few minutes later, she pushed a stroller with her child in it out of the building.

“I’m shaking,” she said.

Residents and parents described the day-care provider as a kind woman.

“She’s a very nice lady,” said Chanelia Dorest, 34, who lives in the building but said she did not know the provider’s name. “It surprises me, it does.”

A licensed day-care center with a capacity of six children is located at 129 Columbia Road and is run by Marisol Rondon-Ramos, according to the website of the state Executive Office of Education. Reached briefly by phone,
Rondon-Ramos said she could not talk. “I have the police here now,” she said.

Nora Ramos, who identified herself as Rondon-
Ramos’s sister-in-law, said in a phone interview that she has left her grandchildren with Rondon-Ramos and never had a problem. She said Rondon-Ramos is “a very responsible person.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families said that it has received a report and is investigating.

Sanchez, the girlfriend of Daylan’s uncle, described the boy’s mother’s state of mind as “anger, frustration, upset, sad, just speechless.”

“She feels like she just doesn’t want to live anymore,” Sanchez said. “That was her only child . . . the only reason for her to get up every day. . . . He was just her whole world.”

Travis Andersen of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Jacqueline Tempera contributed to this report.

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