A year-old girl fell from a third floor window of a Northwest apartment building Monday night, suffering severe bruises and other injuries before neighbors were able to aid the scantily clothed child.
Identified by the police as Shawn Smith Patrick, the baby plunged 30 feet to a grassy area in front of 1427 Chapin St. at about 7 p.m. Neighbors attempted to comfort the moaning child, who was dressed only in a T-shirt and paper diaper, before she was taken by city ambulance to Children's Hospital. She was listed in fair condition yesterday.
D.C. police said they are investigating circumstances of the fall but would not discuss details. Department of Human Resources officials said there has been "evidence of a problem" in the past with the six-member family where the child lived, and social workers have referred the family to the city's child protective services division, which handles child neglect and abuse complaints.
According to police and neighbors in the apartment building, Shawn Patrick lived in the third-floor apartment with her grandmother, Shirley Patrick, and four sons of Shirley Patrick. Shawn's mother, Shelia Patrick, was listed by police at 907 Quincy St. NW.
Ambulance attendant Mamie Alston said one of the sons told her the baby crawled onto a radiator and then fell from the window. Alston said the baby was lying on the ground about three feet from the base of the building when the ambulance arrived.
Alvin Coleman of 1430 Chapin St., said, however, the baby landed 12 to 15 feet from the building.
"I saw the baby falling," he said.
"Me and my buddy, we ran over there. He took his jacket off and put it under the baby, and I took mine off crying at first. Then it stopped. I didn't see any blood or cuts on it. Her head was all covered with mud (from the ground)."
Members of the family could not be reached to discuss how the fall occurred.
Occupants of the apartment did not answer yesterday when a reporter knocked.
The red brick, three-story apartment building is in a seedy block of Chapin Street just off the 14th Street NW corridor. Noted for its almost round-the-clock activity by street hustlers selling marjuana and other drugs, the block is littered with refuse and abandoned cars.
Ruth Morgan, a tenant in the building, said several people rushed to the front of the building when the baby fell.
"The mother was screaming and hollering, and the grandmother was screaming and hollering," she said.
"The mother tried to pick up the baby, but other people said no and kind of held her back."
Morgan, Coleman and other witnesses discounted one story circulating in the neighborhood that a passerby miraculously caught the child as she fell from the window.
"You ain't going to tell me nothing like that," Coleman said. "That baby fell all the way."
Hospital officials would not detail the baby's injuries, but ambulance attendants said she was severely bruised and appeared to have other injuries. She remained conscious en route to the hospital, they said.