JOY TURNS TO GRIEF

Plan­ning fu­neral in­stead of host­ing party for 4-yr.-old

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY TREVOR KAPP AND CLAYTON GUSE

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.”

LUIZ C. RIBEIRO

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).

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