3-year-old girl killed by falling equipment at Head Start school in Dearborn Heights

Table-type contraption collapsed, fell on girl in gymnasium during recess

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. – A 3-year-old Dearborn Heights girl was killed Friday when a table-type structure attached to a wall collapsed and fell on top of her at a Head Start school in Dearborn Heights, police said.

Dearborn Heights police said the children were at recess around 11 a.m. Friday when a table-type piece of equipment in the gymnasium collapsed and fell on the girl, who was 3 1/2 years old.

School officials tried to help the girl before she was taken to Oakwood Beaumont Hospital, but she was pronounced dead.

"Dearborn Heights Fire/Rescue transported the child to Oakwood Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, where the child subsequently died from injuries sustained in the incident," Dearborn Heights police said in a statement.

The girl's family was called to the hospital. Friends of 3-year-old Lilly's mother are heartbroken.

"I didn't know what else to do. She's my best friend and Lilly is my little baby. It's just been very hard," Sandi Jacokes told Local 4 News.

Jacokes works at Walker's Speakeasy and she approached her bosses to help.

"You can't put a price on children and when it's innocent like this, where there is such a tragic accident to someone young, we just felt we should help as much as we can," Walker's owner, Robert Compton, said.

The bar is hoping hundreds will come out next Friday, Jan. 27, for a spaghetti dinner and raffle. Walker's will be donating all the food. You can eat your fill; they just ask that you give a donation that will go for Lilly's burial expenses.

Lilly has a twin sister and a brother, whom her mother is raising by herself.

Police said no wrongdoing is expected in the "freak accident." It is being investigated as a tragic accident related to equipment. Her death has been ruled as accidental and she died due to blunt head trauma.

"They were engaged in some type of recess or activities within the gymnasium," Dearborn Heights police Lt. Mark Meyers said. "A mechanism that's equipped inside the gymnasium failed at some point. That's what we're investigating. A child was injured due to it, and those injuries turned out to be fatal."

The equipment fell on the girl with a gym full of small children and teachers watching, police said.

"These women did everything possible to assure that that child was given the best care for our fire department to come, and they're devastated by what happened, and right now they're trying to come to grips with the events," Meyers said.

The child care center is located at St. Albert the Great Catholic School in the south end of Dearborn Heights. St. Albert the Great School closed years ago, and Wayne Metro Head Start of Detroit rents the old school building from the church to run its Head Start program.

Wayne Metro Head Start dismissed children immediately after the incident and the program was closed for the day.

Local 4 reached out to St. Albert the Great Parish Hall, but the message on the voicemail said that due to unforeseen circumstances they were unable to comment and that the office is closed.

The Bureau of Community Health and Systems from the state of Michigan is in charge of the division of child care licensing. The last inspection of the gymnasium was in 2015, but there don't appear to be any violations related to the equipment in this incident.

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About the Authors:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.