fbpx 11 Year Old Migrant Found Dead at Upper West Side Shelter - Documented
 

11-Year-Old Migrant Found Dead at Upper West Side Shelter

The boy's neighbor at the shelter said he was quiet and polite

This story will be updated as more details become available.

Erika Chourio said she could hear a mother screaming from the room opposite hers on Monday afternoon while at a shelter for migrants on the Upper West Side. She rushed over and found a young boy, unconscious, in the bedroom. With her husband and others in the room, they tried to perform chest compressions and mouth to mouth resuscitation, but the boy did not open his eyes, Chourio said. 

“I held him,” she said in Spanish, as tears welled in her eyes outside of the Stratford Arms shelter on West 70th Street, before picking up her daughter from school on Tuesday. “You could only feel his heart a little bit.” 

The boy was brought downstairs, and police and fire personnel filled the building lobby, she said.

Also Read: A Family Separated by Borders Reels From a Tragedy at a Queens Shelter

Chourio is from Venezuela, where she believes the boy and his family are from. “We came for a new future,” Chourio, 43, said, “and this happens to someone from our own country. It’s hard.” 

Police responded to a 911 call at 117 W. 70 St., the address of the Stratford Arms shelter, on Monday shortly after 5 p.m., a NYPD spokesperson said. When officers arrived, they saw an 11-year-old boy “unconscious and unresponsive” in the lobby, the spokesperson said. Emergency medical services responded, and transported the boy to Mount Sinai West Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) will determine the cause of death, the spokesperson said. The identification of the boy is still pending and the investigation is ongoing, the NYPD said. OCME did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Council member Gale Brewer, whose district includes the Stratford Arms building, said she did not have information about the cause of death.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams said the situation was “very painful.”

“It hurts a lot. You start to ask, did you do enough? Should we have done more?” he said. “And we know we’ve done all we could possibly do with what we have.”

The Stratford Arms building has been used as a city Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center to house migrants since this June. At a city council hearing on Monday, the Adams administration said that more than 67,000 migrants were currently in city care.

On Tuesday afternoon, a wreath hung on the front door of the shelter, and lights from Christmas trees set up inside could be seen through the windows and glass doors. The sound of children laughing and chattering as they came home from school filled the block. Some young children, who appeared to live at the shelter, held their parents’ hands as they walked through the door.

Chourio has lived in the shelter for about three months, with her husband and their daughter, who is 6 years old. The mother of the boy who died was quiet, Chourio said, and even though the two families lived across from each other, they did not speak much between families. But the boy always greeted her when they would run into each other in the hallway, or in the elevator. “Buenos dias,” he would tell Chourio. 

“He was a boy who had nice manners,” she said. 

Chourio thinks the family was new to the shelter, and had moved in about two weeks ago. She said the boy lived in the shelter with his mother and her partner. Chourio did not know the name of the boy or the family, she said.

Humberto Sanchez, who also lives at the shelter with his wife, daughter and grandson, said that he saw police coming into the building from the window of his room on the top floor, around 5 p.m. Police stayed at the building until later in the evening, Sanchez said. His family has been living at the shelter for about three months, and is from Ecuador. He did not know the family of the boy who died, but saw on the news that a boy had been found dead. 

“The loss of a little one, a son, is very painful,” Sanchez, 57, said in Spanish, noting that his own wife had lost a 10-year-old child. “We were very sad, so we didn’t go downstairs.”

Other residents who spoke with Documented under the condition of anonymity said that conditions at the shelter were difficult to live in. One woman said that her children had gotten salmonella from the food at the shelter, and that she had been bitten by bedbugs.

Also Read: Family Seeks Answers After Migrant Dies in HIV/AIDS Supportive Shelter

Brewer said in an interview with Documented that the boy had died in his room, and was an only child. She spoke with NYC Health + Hospitals, and said “culturally appropriate” social workers have been assigned to the family and the building. When she visited the shelter and spoke with the manager, she said they did not share much information with her. The residents in the building are a “very close knit group of people,” Brewer said.

“I feel incredibly bad,” Brewer said, noting that the family had likely come here with a dream to build a future for their child, like many other migrants in New York have.

“From that perspective,” Brewer said, “it’s particularly horrible.”

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