A concrete slab fell from a Northwest Baltimore porch yesterday morning, killing a 10-year-old boy in what family and friends described as a freak accident.
Kyle Blackwell was apparently about to put away his bicycle in the basement underneath the porch when the slab -- weighing at least 200 pounds -- gave way and fell on him, said Lt. Thurman Pugh, a city Fire Department spokesman.
"The slab gave way because of deteriorated wood supporting it," Lieutenant Pugh said. "It's unclear whether the boy's bicycle may have jarred it loose or if it just came down on its own."
Kyle was killed instantly, Lieutenant Pugh said. The accident occurred about 9:45 a.m. at a two-story house in the 5500 block of Elderon Ave., a quiet street of well-kept brick homes and groomed lawns.
"It was probably old or bad cement. It just came loose and fell on Kyle," said Tommy Tyson, 15, one of Kyle's friends. "It's hard to think that he's gone. He was so young."
Kyle's immediate family members were too upset to talk about the boy's death. His uncle, Robert Rea, described Kyle as "a nice little boy."
"He was the ring bearer at my wedding two years ago. It's just so sad," Mr. Rea said.
The back porch where the accident occurred was not part of the original house, neighbors said.
After hearing the news of the accident, William Pitts, his wife, Magruda, and their 10-year-old granddaughter Tiara Taylor drove to Kyle's neighborhood to see the house.
Tiara went to school with Kyle at Grove Park Elementary School, which is at the east end of Elderon Avenue.
"We're just concerned neighbors. I was surprised that something like this could happen around here; these aren't old houses," said Mr. Pitts, who lives on nearby Kennison Avenue. "I want to prevent something like this from ever happening to us."
Neighbors said the community was built in 1952.
A group of older boys in the neighborhood stood and talked yesterday about Kyle, just two doors down from his home.
"We used to go swimming with him, and ride bicycles and play video games. He was younger, but he was a decent kid," said Gerard Lewis, 15. About a week ago, Kyle had gotten a silver mountain bike for his 10th birthday and was "tearing up and down the street with it," Gerard said.
The group of boys said the back porch of Kyle's home always appeared to be sturdy and didn't show any obvious signs of wear.
"It looked all right to me. I never thought it would fall," said 15-year-old Brandon Wright.