New Jersey boy dies when folding bench at school gym collapses

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 08, 2015 9:43 PM

By Peter Wolf

(Reuters) - After a folding bench collapsed and killed an 8-year-old boy in a gym at a New Jersey elementary school, an administrator with the school district said on Thursday there had been no previous safety issues with the benches.

Second-grader Brendan Jordan was attending a recreational soccer program at the Berkley Street Elementary School in the New York City suburb of New Milford on Wednesday evening when the bench, weighing more than 100 pounds, struck him and sent him crumbling to the floor.

The benches, manufactured by Steelcase's Polyvision unit, are stored upright along with a table and second bench in separate recessed wall casings.

Staff at the school, which is about 17 miles northwest of midtown Manhattan, regularly maintained the equipment and there had been no safety issues since it was installed 11 years ago, New Milford Schools Superintendent Michael Polizzi said.

He said the benches and tables operate independently of one another, and when they are folded and pushed into the casing, they are secured with pins that keep them in place. Even after the pins are removed, the benches and tables need to be pushed open, he said.

"None of our students move the tables," Polizzi said. "None of our students open or close them either. We have not experienced any tipping."

The boy's coach, Bryan Mone, an off-duty New Milford police officer, immediately began to administer first aid after the accident and sent parents to call 911. After emergency services arrived and rushed the child to Hackensack University Medical Center, he was pronounced dead at 7:30 p.m.

(Editing By Frank McGurty and Eric Walsh)