A 4-year-old Sykesville boy was killed yesterday afternoon at an Ellicott City spiritual retreat after he fell from a small religious statue, which toppled onto his head.
Cooper Dean Gregory Williams had been playing with the 2-foot-tall statue of the Virgin Mary at the Our Lady Center, where his grandmother is the manager. Apparently he climbed onto its marble platform, then grabbed the statue when he lost his balance.
The boy fell down an embankment into a shallow creek, and the statue toppled over, landing on his head.
The grandmother, Veronica L. Henson, who had been baby-sitting Cooper, was inside the retreat building when the accident occurred about 2:30 p.m.
She rushed out and told Cooper to keep breathing as they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
Cooper's heart stopped before his arrival by helicopter at Johns Hopkins Hospital, according to Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, a Howard County police spokesman.
A Johns Hopkins spokeswoman said Cooper was in "full cardiac arrest" when he arrived, and efforts to revive him in the emergency room were unsuccessful.
The boy was pronounced dead at 3:45 p.m.
Cooper lived with his divorced mother, Kelly Lynn Henson, and maternal grandparents in the 6300 block of Sykesville Road, and visited the religious center three times a week.
He loved playing in the creek there, his mother said last night.
"He played around the creek all the time," she said. "He'd catch crayfish and minnows. He always got yelled at for getting his shoes wet in the creek.
"Today, he made sure they wouldn't get wet," so he stayed on the bank of the creek, she said.
Worshipers at the Our Lady Center, in the 3300 block of Rogers Ave., pay homage to the Virgin Mary.
Activities include Masses, parish visitations and rosary making at the center, a small building with offices and a room for services.
Three adults and about a dozen children from a group called TORCH (Traditions of Roman Catholic Homes) were there yesterday to celebrate the May crowning of the Blessed Lady, known as the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.
The group, a support organization for parents who educate their children at home, and Cooper had just finished crowning a larger monument, the Pilgrim Virgin Statue that is a replica of a larger monument in Fatima, Portugal, with a laced magenta satin cap.
Arrangements of daisies, mums and orchids had been laid by the statue's feet.
The group apparently had a picnic and was in the process of leaving the center when the accident occurred, police said.
The 2-foot-tall statue that fell onto the boy appeared to be made out of stone, and was slightly chipped at its base. It stood inches from the creek on a one-foot-high marble platform supported by small pillars -- one of several monuments lining the grassy bank, in a pastoral setting surrounded by picnic tables and trees.
Ms. Henson said her son loved dinosaurs and was "very into his religion.
"He was wonderful," she said. "He was the type of kid that everyone who met him will never forget him."
Cooper's grandmother described him as a lovable boy, and told how he would always greet families who came to the center with the question, "Where are your children?"
"He knew all of his catechisms and knew all about his prayers," Veronica Henson said. "He was a very outgoing child. Anybody who will meet him, he would make friends instantly."
Cooper is also survived by his father, Gregory A. Williams of Sykesville; and his grandparents, Henry D. and Mrs. Henson, and Richard and Alberta Williams of Rolla, Mo.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.