11-Month-Old Boy Dies After Being Burned by Steam From Radiator

An 11-month-old boy died Friday morning after being burned by steam that leaked from a radiator in a bedroom at a Brooklyn apartment, the police said.

The police received a 911 call for help at the apartment, on East 14th Street in the Midwood neighborhood, just after 6 a.m., officials said. When officers arrived, they found the boy with burn wounds, the police said. He was unconscious and unresponsive.

The child, whose name was not released, was taken to Maimonides Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, officials said.

The leak’s cause was under investigation Friday afternoon, officials said. The police filed a request with New York City’s Buildings Department for an inspection “due to a faulty radiator causing steam to fill the bedroom,” records show.

The boy’s mother was feeding another child when the 11-month-old wandered into the bedroom and was hit by the steam, the police said.

The building’s boiler was last inspected on Feb. 2, 2023, according to Approved Oil, the Brooklyn company that performed the inspection. No defects were found, according to a record filed with the Buildings Department.

Steam heat is ubiquitous in New York City, but injuries caused by it usually occur in industrial workplaces and are relatively rare. Deaths are even rarer.

In 2016, two sisters, ages 2 and 1, died after being severely burned by steam from a radiator in a temporary apartment for homeless people in the South Bronx. In 2017, their parents sued the city, the building’s owner and Bushwick Economic Development Corporation, the social services agency that administered housing. In June, the parents settled with the city for $300,000 and with the agency for $4.5 million, court records show.

City agencies have cited the Midwood property where the child died on Friday for 57 violations, most of them from 2010 to 2013, city records show.

Ruvin Itskovich, who is listed in Buildings Department records as the current owner, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The four-story brick building is in a middle-class neighborhood of similar apartment houses and detached multifamily homes. On Friday morning, two police officers and two men wearing skullcaps stood outside the family’s apartment on the first floor. Two strollers sat out front. At one point, Buildings Department officials were seen entering the building.

Inside the building, neighbors who knew the baby and his parents mourned his death.

Muhammad Haseeb said he awoke in the early morning darkness to screaming on the floor below. A woman wailed and a man moaned, Mr. Haseeb said, trembling at the memory.

Soon, the building’s first floor was swarmed with police officers, firefighters and paramedics.

Shortly after noon, the parents emerged from their apartment, holding hands and flanked by two members of Hatzalah, a volunteer ambulance service that provides help to the Orthodox Jewish community.

Jodion Green, 40, who lives on the floor above the family, clasped his hands as if in prayer and collapsed against a wall in the hallway when another neighbor told him what had happened.

The parents doted on the boy: Mr. Green said he spent hours helping the child’s father install an infant car seat. The father often asked Mr. Green, who has older children, for advice on parenting.

“It was like a miracle the way they interacted, like he was a miracle child,” Mr. Green said. “He had these blue eyes, they were so bright. When he would lock them on you it was like, wow. He was so beautiful, he was always cheerful, and he was sweet and funny.”

Steam has been a major heat source in New York for about 150 years. It currently heats about 80 percent of residential buildings in the city, according to a 2019 report by Urban Green Council. The largest steam system in the United States runs from the southern tip of Lower Manhattan to 96th Street, serving millions of people.

The council said steam heat was especially common in smaller multifamily properties of less than 50,000 square feet — a category that would include the Midwood building.

Most systems operate with boilers that burn oil or natural gas. Steam heat is no longer used in most new construction because it releases greenhouse gases and can be difficult to distribute evenly throughout a building. Modern buildings use more efficient systems, including geothermal heat pumps.

Victor Buzin, 36, who has lived at the Midwood address since he was a teenager, said that he had never had trouble with his radiator but that the building was old and had its problems.

“It’s terrible,” Mr. Buzin said. “How could this happen?”

Mr. Green said that the parents of the 11-month-old boy recently had twin girls and their father had been trying to figure out whether he should get a three-child stroller so the siblings could travel together.

Mr. Green pulled out his phone to text the father, who he described as a close friend. He struggled with what to write. After a couple of false starts, he decided.

“I’m here for you,” Mr. Green wrote.

Matthew Haag contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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