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SCALDED BOY'S AGONY DIDN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN ; CITY KNEW OF BUILDING PROBLEMS
New York Post, March 11, 1999

A 10-year-old Manhattan boy suffered third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body when he fell into a bathtub full of scalding water - a hazard city housing officials knew about, The Post has learned.

Little Sean Daniels was dressed and headed to school at PS 123 on Feb. 22 when his mother, Linda, asked him to turn off the water she was running for her bath, she said.

The bathroom was filled with steam that obscured his vision, and when he reached for the faucet, he tumbled into the scalding water.

"I heard him scream and I ran in," a tearful Linda Daniels said. "I lifted off the clothes and his skin was dripping off him like molasses.

NYPD Special Victims Squad detectives, who were sent to determine whether an accident or abuse caused Sean's injuries, later tested the water temperature and found it was above 200 degrees, Daniels said. Normally, domestic hot water is 120.

Sean's misfortune was living at 101 W. 140th St., a 52-apartment tenement cited repeatedly by city agencies for violations ranging from failing to provide tenants heat and hot water to not allowing city inspectors access to the boiler.

In February 1998, complaints of scalding water in the building had been registered with the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which was required by law to make repairs within 24 hours and bill the landlord, said Daniels' lawyer, Madeline Bryer.

HPD referred the matter to its Emergency Repair Unit. The agency inspected the building on Sept. 23, but the results were not available yesterday.

HPD officials checked records back to December and found there were no hot-water complaints, but information about prior months was not immediately available.

Calls to the phone number listed for building owner Kromo Lenox Associates did not accept incoming calls and Seagrass Management, which runs the building, did not return calls.

Meanwhile, Sean remains at the Cornell Burn Center in serious condition with second- and third-degree burns from his chest to his ankles. The fourth-grader is missing skin on his right hand, chest, genitals and legs.

He recently underwent skin-graft surgery on one leg and another operation is set for tomorrow.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.


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