JOY TURNS TO GRIEF
Planning funeral instead of hosting party for 4-yr.-old
The family of a 4-year-old autistic girl who died in the Bronx on Saturday after falling from a window planned to celebrate her birthday on Sunday. Now they will be planning her funeral.
Helena Flores fell from a fourth-floor window in her apartment building on E. 140th St. near Cypress Ave. in Mott Haven just before 5 p.m.
“She was loved and was safe. My whole home is childproofed because Helena’s autistic,” said Hilda Flores, the girl’s mother. “We just overlooked one small detail.”
Flores said the kids’ bedroom in the apartment was small and contained two radiators, so she would sometimes leave the window open about 2 inches to keep the space from overheating.
Helena made her way through that opening on Saturday and plummeted to her death, her mother said.
Flores said she was asleep when her daughter fell, and that her sister and niece were on baby-sitting duty.
“I am currently experiencing back pain, I am currently on muscle relaxers trying to deal with the pain,” said Flores. “I went to take a nap and I woke up when my sister ran in the room and asked if Helena was with me.”
Flores said she and her sister frantically searched the tiny apartment and quickly discovered the bedroom window was wide open and Helena’s body was sprawled below.
“We was told she had died on impact,” said Flores. “Although no amount of words could console my family and I, knowing she didn’t suffer gives an inch of peace.”
Helena’s fourth birthday was last Tuesday — her family was planning a Peppa Pigthemed party for Sunday.
Flores said they cut a cake on Tuesday, and she was proud that Helena blew out her candles unassisted. “When you have an autistic child, things like that are big,” she said.
Reached by phone Sunday afternoon, Flores said her husband went to Home Depot to get childproofing equipment for the window from which Helena fell.
“We were one of those parents that would say, ‘No, not me. Not my kid,’ ” said Flores. “We were extra careful in our household. One mistake changed all of this in a split second.”
The family was waiting to hear from the hospital to begin arranging Helena’s funeral.
“Helena was very smart, very bright,” Flores said. “She had high-functioning autism, but she was a bright, bright little girl. She was very athletic, very into gymnastics. She was always climbing and jumping.”
Helena had a sister and three brothers, Flores said.
“It was truly a small mistake that caused a tragedy, a mistake that anyone could have overlooked,” said Flores. “Hold on to your children because accidents like this can happen to anyone at any moment.”
Memorial outside building on E. 140th St. in the Bronx shows love for 4-year-old Helena Flores (inset), who died after she toppled out of a fourth-floor window into a parking lot behind the building (below).