BROWNSVILLE — The mother of a 12-year-old boy crushed to death by a rolldown gate in her building's parking lot said a day after the horrific incident that she can't bear to live so close to the site where her son tragically lost his life.
Yakim McDaniels was killed when his head became caught in the gate he was hanging onto while reportedly playing a game of "chicken" with friends Sunday, to see who could hold on the longest, according to police and reports.
"I just moved here in September, and now I want to request a transfer," his anguished mother, Doris Chase, said from her apartment Monday. "I have to take my other kids to school and walk by that gate every day. I can't live here anymore."
Her phone has been beeping non-stop with texts and calls from those hoping to offer words of support, and family members passed in and out of the family home Monday morning.
More family and friends will be visiting this week, Chase said, some traveling from upstate New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and as far as Alabama.
She said all of them want to leave something for McDaniels by the gate. A vigil will take place for McDaniels today outside the gate at 230 Lott Ave., at 7 p.m.
"I went by there and lit a candle," Chase said, as she sat on the SpongeBob SquarePants comforter covering McDaniels' bed, looking around the bedroom at a pair of his basketball shoes and a large cardboard box stuffed with his favorite DVDs.
"I want to put something there for him that he'd want me to put there."
Marlene Mouron, 53, a resident of the same housing complex for 34 years who said she witnessed the incident, said a fairly large crowd of people gathered to watch as firemen and paramedics worked Sunday to release McDaniels from the gate.
"He was just rolling up and rolling up," she said. "I saw five men cut the little boy out and then his neck snapped, broke, like it was just hanging. They finally got it open, wrapped him up and took him away. I never saw anything like it before in my life."
Others like Lamount Samuell, 56, who also lives in the complex, watched the scene from a distance. He could not bring himself to go closer than a block away.
"That was close enough," Samuell said. "The whole complex came out, but I couldn't tell you how many were in the crowd. I was looking up at the gate, with a sickening feeling in my stomach."
The electric gate is a secondary entrance to a tenant-only parking lot, located next to his family's apartment complex.
McDaniels was reportedly playing a game of "chicken" with five friends outside the gate when one boy triggered the gate's motion sensor, causing the gate to rise while three of the boys grabbed onto its bars, the Daily News and New York Post reported.
McDaniels reportedly hung in the air for about 20 minutes while firefighters cut through the bars to extract him. He was then rushed to Brookdale University Hospital and pronounced dead.
Omni New York, LLC, the complex's owners, said that a staffed security booth sits on the opposite end of the parking lot from that gate on Lott Ave.
The company has offered to pay for McDaniels' funeral, but said they do take responsibility for the incident.
"It's really just a tragic accident, and we send our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family as they greive the loss of their loved one," said Omni spokeswoman Arleigh Hardy. "But no, we're not taking responsibility for the accident."
Fox News reported that Omni was working on taking the gate down, but Hardy did not return calls to confirm this.
McDaniels's mother said that those on the scene told her that her son's last words were, "Go get my mother."
"It hurt me to hear that," she said. "It hurt me that I couldn't go up there to get him."