D.C. school officials said yesterday that the giraffe-like playground equipment on which a 6-year-old girl was accidentally hanged Wednesday would be removed from the grounds of Ann Beers Elementary School by early next week.
Theodore Thomas, assistant school safety director, said the school principal had requested that the equipment be taken down because it served as a reminder of the tragedy. Some parents, meanwhile, had urged that it be removed because it posed a danger to other youngstes. Thomas said, however, that he believes that the apparatus is safe to use under proper supervision.
Principal Mary Maloney, through a spokeswoman, said and oral request for removal of the equipment, followed by a written request, had been sent to the school's office of building and grounds.
Parents and PTA officials have urged removal of the climbing-bar structure that has 24 protruding bars in a spine-like arrangement. Beers PTA President Gilbert Bussey, who had earlier stated that the equipment should be removed "so at least it won't serve as a remider," said he had talked with the principal. "The principal's feeling was pretty much the same as mine," he said.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has a "general policy" against any playground equipment that has protruding pieces, is conducting an investigation into the accident, which occurred about 1 p.m. Wednesday at the school at Alabama Avenue and 36th Place SE.
Nikia Lashaun King of 2100 31st Pl. SE was scampering off the structure when her coat became entangled with a bar at the base of the giraffe's neck. She was flown by helicopter to the Washington Hospital Center, where she died at 2:45 p.m.
Thomas said school officials will determine how many of the giraffe-like pieces of equipment are on school grounds. He added that the name of the manufacturer is still to be determined.
Assistant D.C. medical examiner Brian D. Blackbourne, who conducted the autopsy on the child, said that he visited the scene of the accident and determined that, in his view, the equipment was unsafe.
The piece of equipment has been on the playground for 12 years.