A Port Chester 2-year-old survived a fall from the third floor to the cement below at this public housing apartment building on Weber Drive on Sunday, Mar. 23. CLAIRE K. RACINE|WESTMORE NEWS
A Port Chester 2-year-old survived a fall from the third floor to the cement below at this public housing apartment building on Weber Drive on Sunday, Mar. 23.

Despite plummeting three stories to land head-first on concrete, a Port Chester child survived the fall from his neighbor's window on Sunday afternoon and after surgery was listed in stable condition at the hospital.

Xion Price, a two-and-a-half-year-old who lives on the second floor at 13 Weber Dr., went to play with an 8-year-old who lives on the floor above him in the public housing building and was being watched by his 14-year-old sister. The younger two went into the bedroom to play, which is where the playful afternoon on Mar. 23 unraveled.

"The child managed to get up onto the bed adjacent to the window and apparently fall out, tumble out of the window," said Port Chester Acting Police Chief John Telesca.

Price landed on his head on the concrete sidewalk.

Residents outside who saw the incident immediately called 911 at 1:30 p. m. When Port Chester police arrived, one side of the 2-year-old's head had already swollen. Price, who suffered a massive brain injury, was rushed to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, where surgeons installed a drain to relieve the pressure on his brain.

"He is in a medically induced coma," Telesca said on Monday. "I understand he's in stable condition."

Investigations underway

Police believe the situation to be an accident but are still treating it as a crime scene while they investigate.

"We have no reason to suspect foul play," the acting chief said.

The Port Chester police informed both Child Protective Services and the Westchester County District Attorney's office, which are assisting with the investigation. "That's not unusual," Telesca explained.

Whenever there is a serious injury-especially one that is unwitnessed as the 8-year-old was playing on the other side of the room and claimed not to have seen it happen-to a protective class of individuals, which 2-year-olds are considered, "it's a good idea to give your district attorney, your local DA, a heads up," he added.

Also holding their own investigation is the Port Chester Housing Authority, the local agency that oversees the 120-unit apartment complex on Weber Drive as well as four other public housing projects in the village.

"We kind of have to research this and investigate from all angles," said Robert Vyskocil, the Housing Authority executive director. "Going forward we're going to cooperate in all the investigations and do everything we can to make sure everyone is safe."

Concerns over removed security bars

Following Price's fall, residents at the development raised questions and concerns about security bars which used to adorn many windows on the buildings. Now only a few windows bear the guards.

"I just can't imagine windows with no bars and you have kids that live on the third floor," said a resident who lives two buildings down from Price who asked to have her name withheld. "That's just not right."

Vyskocil explained that the situation is more complicated than residents may assume.

"There are certain factors that come into play to determine if bars are required," he said.

The Housing Authority receives financial assistance from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As a safety feature, HUD requires two ways to exit each room in case of a fire. The bedroom that Price fell out of only had one window and one door. During a previous physical inspection, HUD informed the local authorities that rooms like that needed to have the bars removed. The windows where bars remain are ones that had multiple exits. For example, he said, if a room had two windows and one door, the bars could stay on one of the windows, but not both.

Although he could not pinpoint exactly when most of those bars were removed, he did say "it was many years ago, long before my term."

Vyskocil became director of the Housing Authority in April 2013.

Circumstances are different, he further explained, if there are young children living in an apartment, which Price would have been considered. However, it was a neighbor's apartment where the fall actually occurred. Furthermore, the 8-year-old does not qualify because, according to Vyskocil's research, that stipulation only applies to children under the age of seven.

"The more you research-it's kind of almost troublesome in a way. It's very hard to find some hard and fast rules," he added.

As part of their research and investigation, the Housing Authority is exploring solutions that fit HUD's qualifications but still provide better security for residents.

"Apparently there are guards that can be on hinges that can be swung open," Vyskocil said "So we're going to look into that kind of thing as well."

A parent himself, Vyskocil said, "It's just a horrible tragedy."

The Port Chester resident added that he is praying for Price to be okay. That's "number one, for sure," he said.