EAST VILLAGE — A 39-year-old man who had taken his niece to Tompkins Square Park died Monday after being struck in the face by an empty tire swing that he was pushing, police said.
Aleim Perkins, of Harlem, was with his niece at the children's playground a little before 4 p.m. when he started to aggressively push the swing, a police source said.
At one point, the swing struck him in the face, leaving him unconscious and bleeding from the mouth, officials said.
East Village resident Ori Carino, 32, was in the park with his son when the accident happened. He didn't see Perkins get hit, but ran up to help him as soon as he saw him on the ground.
The uncle, who Carino said was more than 6-feet tall, was lying flat on his face and appeared unconscious.
Carino said he and another dad who's an ex-firefighter rushed over and turned Perkins over.
“The guy got his fillings knocked out,” Carino said, adding that his eyes were fluttering but never opened.
He said a group of mothers who were also in the park tried to console Perkins' distraught niece.
Perkins' death left family members and friends reeling.
"He was a good brother and he was a good person," said Rosemary Perkins, his sister. "We're grieving."
Melinda Herndon, 34, who said they were childhood friends, described Perkins as a generous person who was always helping others.
“I just want everyone to know he was a great guy and he didn’t deserve to die like that," she said.
Cecile Perlas, 46, a nanny, who was at the play ground when the accident happened said she saw Perkins pushing a group of three older kids on the swing after his niece went to play with some other children.
“He swung them like crazy," Perlas said. "One of the kids was falling, saying ‘stop, stop.’”
The kids eventually got off and Perkins continued to push the tire by himself.
“It was like flying,” Perlas said, adding that she could hear the pole it was attached to creaking.
She then went to the other side of the park and didn't see the accident.
The park's playground has two tire swings attached to a yellow metal frame made by the company Landscape Structures. The playground also had protective padding underneath the structure.
“Our condolences go out to the loved ones impacted by Monday’s incident at Tompkins Square Park. At this time, Landscape Structures is working with the city to gather information regarding details of the incident," a company spokeswoman said in a statement.
Perkins was rushed to Beth Israel Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.
“We all had our fingers crossed and hoped he’d be OK,” Carino said. “Such a tragedy. It’s insane.”