Death of baby in Niagara Park

18 March 2014
Geraldine Cardozo and Richard Noone, Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate
Death of baby in Niagara Park balcony collapse prompts building safety warning.

The tragic death of a three-month old baby in a balcony collapse at Niagara Park on Sunday has sparked warnings for Central Coast home owners to check their balconies are safe.

A Gosford City Council spokeswoman while the cause of the incident was unknown at this stage, people should check the strength and integrity of structures in and around their homes, ``especially ageing structures which may have deteriorated since the time of building inspection’’.

“If people suspect there may be cause for concern, they should seek advice from a licensed builder or report the matter for further investigation,” she said.

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe also warned property owners to regularly check wear and tear on their balconies for possible deterioration of construction materials.

“Some materials, especially wood, can deteriorate over time,” Mr Stowe said.

“It is also important for tenants to be aware of the condition of any building they take out a lease on, paying particular regard to the initial condition report.

“During the course of the tenancy it is the responsibility of the landlord to maintain the building in safe manner.

“Any concerns should be communicated to the managing agent or landlord.”

Mother Remains in Hospital

The 43-year-old mother of five remains in a stable condition at Gosford Hospital with a suspected broken back while a police investigation is focusing on the ``structural integrity’’ of the rented Niagara Park home.

The tragedy unfolded just after 1pm on Sunday as violent storm cells descended on the Central Coast.

Neighbours heard a man and a woman screaming before a waist-height section of the sheet iron balustrade gave way and the woman and baby boy tumbled 6m to the concrete below.

Emergency services were called and the pair was rushed to Gosford with Aiden being flown to Westmead Children’s Hospital where he later died from critical injuries.Brisbane Water Superintendent Daniel Sullivan said Gosford City Council compliance officers were called in on Monday to assist detectives with their inquiry along with more specialist structural engineers from the private sector.

“That’s the key factor of our investigation at this point in time, in relation to the structural integrity of the home at Niagara Park,” he said.

Nothing Ruled Out 

“At the moment what we’re not doing is ruling anything in or anything out.

“What we can say is that based on what occurred is the mother was on the balcony and soon after ambulance officers were called and attended the scene and the mother and the baby were on the ground.”

Supt Sullivan said detectives were interviewing any witnesses to determine the circumstances leading up to the fall.

Supt Sullivan said the family’s grief was still “too raw” to speak to the media.

“Even just speaking as a father myself, I was yesterday at home when I got this information (and) I just made sure I gave my two daughters an extra cuddle,” he said.

“This is a terrible tragedy, a young life has been taken, his mother is seriously injured and it’s a matter where we need to make sure we carefully and concisely go through and find out what exactly happened.’’

Tributes on Line

As online tributes continued to flow Vanessa Foley posted on Facebook: ``My thoughts and prayers go out to the family. I looked at this place to rent a few years ago. I thought the backyard was too dangerous for my kids.’’

Others were calling for regular balcony inspections similar to current legislation surrounding pools.

`There needs to be some investigation into all balconies, as recently done with pools,’’ John Thomas posted.

`This was not wood rot as someone suggested, it is all aluminium. Looks like shoddy workmanship or neglected maintenance.’’