Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Locks Failed to Save Boy from Bench

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Locks Failed to Save Boy from Bench

Article excerpt

Two locks designed to hold a bench stored vertically in the gymnasium wall of a New Milford elementary school were not secured when the bench broke loose and killed 7-year-old Brendan Jordan, according to a police report released on Friday.

The "dead bolt locking mechanism" on the bench was not engaged at the time of the incident and a "backup swivel safety latch" appeared to be missing from the bench altogether, the New Milford police report said. The report also provided differing witness accounts of the Jan. 7 accident at the Berkley Street Elementary School.

The dead bolt is controlled by a key and is used to secure the bench to the wall, while the swivel latch is usually on the outside of the casing that holds the bench and is designed as a backup safety feature, according to the investigation report.

The missing swivel latch was not found in the area of the accident, the report said.

"It appeared that the latch had been missing for some time due to the rust observed on [the] area that held the latch in place," the report said.

The grounds supervisor for the school said his office had never received a work order to repair the missing bench safety latch, according to the report. New Milford School Superintendent Michael Polizzi declined to comment on the report on Friday.

There was also a third safety mechanism, a latch located on the top of the folding bench that activated when the bench was placed into the wall. However, that latch would disengage when the bench was pulled out from the bottom, the report said.

School officials also told police the bench that struck Jordan was used earlier that evening as part of the after-school program but not during the regular school day. Both the staff of the after- school program and the school custodian on the day of the accident declined to give a statement and requested legal counsel, the report said. …

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