Better Security May Have Stopped Shopping Cart Incident, Pol Says

By Jeff Mays on November 4, 2011 6:38pm 

Marion Hedges, seen here at the New York Junior League's 55th Annual Winter Ball on March 2, 2007.
Marion Hedges, seen here at the New York Junior League's 55th Annual Winter Ball on March 2, 2007.
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Patrick McMullen

HARLEM—Two 12-year-old boys may not have been able to lift a shopping cart over the edge of a pedestrian bridge and critically injure an Upper West real estate broker if security at East River Plaza were better, said East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito.

"In this case, there was a lapse. If there were more security guards patrolling the area, maybe something could have been done," she said.

"It was a pretty high lift."

In the days since the Oct. 30 incident where 47-year-old Marion Hedges was struck by the falling shopping cart in front of her 14-year-old son, security has been beefed up.

A guard is now posted on each of the mall's pedestrian bridges. Regular patrons said that security arrangement was not in place prior to the incident.  

Susan Mahoney, whose husband Gaurav Patel was the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital resident who helped revive Hedges, said a Costco employee at the scene was upset because an earlier call made to Target about the boys throwing Slurpees onto customers was ignored, she told DNAinfo.

The mall and Target declined comment about the allegations.

Mark-Viverito said that may show a need for better coordination between the security in each store and mall security. She is reaching out to Blumenfeld developers, owners of the mall, to set up that meeting.

"One of the concerns the community has had about the mall even as it was being built was security because there are a lot of schools in the area," said Mark-Viverito.

Target officials declined to comment on specifics but said they were taking the "situation very seriously."

Gary Lewi, a spokesperson for mall owner Blumenfeld Development, said a lot of money is spent to secure the mall.

"Clearly, the management of the mall will look to engage in any dialogue the councilwoman wants. This continues to be a strong asset and if there are specific concerns we will be more than happy to address them," said Lewi.

Mark-Viverito said she is also working with Bronx Councilman James Vacca, chairman of the Transportation Committee, to close a loophole that would have required the foot bridge to have 8-foot fences if it was owned by the city and not a private developer.

Rosemary Rosario with her son's attorney outside of court.
Rosemary Rosario with her son's attorney outside of court.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

'We are going to be working on that legislation together as quickly as possible," she said.

The 12-year-old suspects were ordered to continue to be held in the custody of the Administration for Children's Services Friday at a family court hearing. Rosemary Rosario, the mother of one of the boys, whom DNAinfo is declining to name, said her son was sorry for his actions.

"My heart goes out to Mrs. Hedges [and] her family. I'm also a mother," Rosario said.

"My son is only 12-years-old. He's a good kid. I just need help. I'm a single mother," she added in a tearful statement.

Shahabuddeen Ally, the lawyer for Rosario's son, said there was no intent to hurt anyone.

"None of the charges have been charged as intentional acts, meaning to hurt someone with an action," Ally said.

Hedges, a graduate of the elite Spence School and Barnard College was involved in several prominent and civic philanthropic endeavors, including the Junior League of New York and  Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center.

Hedges is listed in critical but stable condition at Harlem Hospital but her husband Micheal Hedges told DNAinfo that his wife has months of rehabilitation ahead.

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