Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Orthodox Toddler Drowns in Toilet During Rosh Hashanah Celebration 

A 14-month old boy visiting his aunt's house for Jewish New Year celebrations apparently drowned in a toilet, in a tragic holiday accident.

The toddler--Mendi Altman of upstate Monsey--was pronounced dead on arrival at Maimonedes Medical Center.

"I saw all these ambulances and the commotion going on, but I wasn't sure what it was," said Miriam Quinones, who lives on 11th Avenue near 58th Street, where members of the Hatzolah emergency service showed up around 11 pm Monday night, as many families were in the middle of Rosh Hashanah celebrations.

Shortly after the child was pronounced dead, detectives from the 66th Precinct and Special Victims Squad were called in to investigate what happened.

The child's 13 year old cousin told police that when he went to the bathroom about 11pm Monday night, he found the little boy with his head in the toilet, on the second floor of 58-13. 11th Avenue. Police later determined there was no sign of criminality. All of the children in the household had been put to bed earlier without incident.

Mendi's mother had taken her seven children to her sister's house in Brooklyn for Rosh Hoshanah celebrations. A neighbor told PIX 11 the child's father was in Europe visiting a holy site, when the accident happened.

The family was expected to wait for his return to the United States, before the toddler was buried.

A driver for Hatzolah ambulance that PIX met on Tuesday said of the accident, "It could happen any day. It could happen any day...to anyone."

Many Orthodox Jews living on 11th Avenue continued with their trips to the synagogues, as New Year celebrations were winding down. One of them quoted a rabbi who had spoken of the tragedy, "The ways of G-d are hidden."

The same rabbi also encouraged parents with young children to use safety latches on their bathroom doors.


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