A 9-year-old Sunset Park girl was left bloodied and traumatized last week after a reckless city snow-plow operator on the Gowanus Expressway sent bowling-ball-sized hunks of ice crashing through her Third Avenue window.
It was a miracle she survived, say the little girl’s loved ones, and the city must stop its cowboy plow-boys from barreling down the highway and torpedoing ice onto the avenue below, or it will happen again.
“God must have protected her, but [the city] must to do something to protect us,” said Diomedes Varges, whose 9-year-old granddaughter Caitlin Morales was in bed when ice careened into her bedroom during Winter Storm Stella on March 14, hitting the little girl in the chest and slicing her nose and just below her eye, ABC 7 first reported.
“I heard an explosion and screaming from my granddaughter’s room,” Varges said. “Snow like a bowling ball shot through her windows and cut her.”
The terrified fourth grader refused to sleep in her bedroom for days after the assault, and now more than a week later, with the panes boarded up and the plows long gone, she still jumps at rapping on the window and is sick with worry that it will happen again.
“I’m really scared that they’ll break the glass again,” said Morales. “It could happen again and we can’t do anything to stop it.”
Morales’s mom is now trying to find a therapist to help her daughter cope with the trauma and plans on rearranging the room so her bed isn’t below the windows. But she says her daughter won’t be out of danger unless the city takes action.
“We want that peace of mind because right now we don’t know what to expect,” said Clarissa Rios, the grade-schooler’s mother. “Every time it snows I’ll be afraid — Caitlin doesn’t even want to live here anymore.”
Morales’s family weren’t the only ones fearing for their wellbeing after the icy assault — the projectiles just narrowly missed a local woman who was breast-feeding her 2-month-old when ice rocketed into her bedroom.
“The room looked like a disaster zone,” said Joselin Vargas. “I had to shield my kids and my legs got scratched up.”
The ice also blew out more than a dozen windows on either side of the avenue, dented cars, and caused the Pentecostal Church of Jericho’s awning to collapse under an assault of frozen water.
Plowers raining hail down on the street has been a pain in the past, but never like this, said another local.
“It’s been an issue before but never this bad,” said Mario Rivera, who has worked at a Third Avenue mechanic for seven years. “They can’t change how the highway is set up, but they need to do something — anything to stop this.”
The city is investigating the Morales’s ordeal and encourages anyone who was hurt or whose property was damaged to file a claim with the New York City Comptroller’s Office, according to a spokeswoman with the Department of Sanitation.