Toddler Crushed to Death by Steel Door Taken Off Its Hinges

The boy, Yonatan Sitbon of the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood, apparently pushed the Pladelet-brand front door, which fell on top of him.

A child just shy of his second birthday was crushed to death by a steel-plated door yesterday that had been taken off its hinges and was leaning against the lobby wall of his Jerusalem apartment building.

The boy, Yonatan Sitbon of the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood, apparently pushed the Pladelet-brand front door, which fell on top of him.

His mother, Deborah Sitbon, who was lightly injured by the falling door, told paramedics she had just taken her son out of his stroller and was busy folding it up when the accident happened.

A neighbor helped get the toddler out from under the door and brought him into a nearby apartment, leaving a trail of blood that led to the couch where he had been placed while waiting for an ambulance.

"The child was lying on the couch without a pulse and with severe bleeding from his ears and nose - it was an awful sight," said Rikva Or, a member of the first Magen David Adom ambulance crew to reach the scene. "We started resuscitation procedures and ordered a mobile intensive-care vehicle to come immediately."

Resuscitation efforts continued in the apartment, and then in Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, where doctors declared Sitbon dead.

Hours after the incident, police detained a couple in the building suspected of leaving the door in the lobby. They were questioned for several hours, and could potentially face charges of causing death by negligence.

Deborah Sitbon and her husband, David, an ultra-Orthodox couple who recently immigrated from France, told paramedics that neighbors who renovated their apartment placed their old door in the lobby, where it had remained for a month and a half.

The boy's father said he had asked the neighbor to remove the door for safety reasons, but was told the neighbor found it difficult to take down to the storage room.

The neighbors' attorney said they had in fact taken the door to the storage room.

"They brought in a professional who took the old door to the storage room," the lawyer said. "After a few days the door was put back [in the lobby], apparently by another resident, and since then has been there at the entrance to the building. This blood was not shed by our hand."

Police said they were suspicious of the couple's account, and questioned other neighbors, as well as the renovation crew that replaced the door.

Yonatan, the youngest of two boys, was buried yesterday at Jerusalem's Har Hamenuhot cemetery.

"The bad must be blessed as is the good," his father said at the funeral. "Sometimes we forget to thank the Almighty. I thanked Him in my every prayer for my two sons. But sometimes, God forbid, a man doesn't notice what he got until he gives. Now I understand what I had been given."