According to NY Daily News, two young children were killed Monday, April 10, 2023, in an Astoria, Queens apartment building located on 46th Street in New York.
The victims became trapped in their second-floor apartment after an e-bike battery burst into flames, blocking the only exit from the residence.
The children, a 7-year-old and his 19-year-old sister, were unable to be saved by their father and four siblings, who managed to escape the blaze by leaping from the back windows of the home. Zakiniaeiz, a neighbor of the family, reported seeing the two children at the window on the left side of the building, struggling to break through the window guards, which are mandated by city law for child safety. He tried to find a ladder to reach the girl but was unsuccessful. “She was talking to me for a little bit and then I see the other kid in the other window. He was screaming for help so I was like, ‘I can save that kid,’” he said.
Officials reported that the fire was caused by a lithium-ion battery that had been set to charge in the vestibule of the home. The heavy smoke created by the e-bike explosion was able to travel directly up the stairs, leaving the occupants with very little chance of escaping, according to FDNY Chief John Hodges. It took 25 units with 106 firefighters about an hour to bring the fire under control around 3:15 p.m.
Laurence Banville, an attorney and contributor, is an expert in lithium-ion battery fire injury cases. He works with victims who have been injured in fires caused by these batteries as well as the families of those who have died. In a recent interview, he discussed how victims' families can seek justice in the event of a wrongful death.
"No amount of money can ever make up for the death of a loved one, but it can provide compensation for the financial losses and emotional pain and suffering caused by the negligence of another. Victims or the surviving family members of lost loved ones should be aware of their rights to seek justice after a wrongful death caused by a lithium battery."
"It is important that property managers and manufacturers of lithium battery-powered devices do their due diligence in ensuring the safety and security of their buildings and products, respectively, and to take all necessary steps to prevent the tragedy of wrongful death from occurring. The legal implications of improper or faulty property management and lithium battery-powered devices are serious. They can lead to the tragic loss of life or severe injuries in addition to property damage."
"The law is clear: property managers have a legal duty to ensure that their building is safe and meets all local, state and federal fire safety regulations, and that there are proper exits in case of fires. Similarly, manufacturers of lithium battery-powered devices have a legal duty to ensure that their products are safe and are not faulty. This includes ensuring that lithium batteries are not prone to overheating, short-circuiting, or exploding."
"If a property manager or manufacturer of lithium battery-powered devices fails to meet their legal duties and someone is killed as a result, the family of the deceased may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of lawsuit seeks to hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence and to provide the deceased's family with compensation for the loss of their loved one. Victims can learn more about their legal rights by speaking with an experienced attorney."