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Boy Falls Six Stories, Walks Away Unharmed

The Miami Herald via YellowBrix

June 18, 2010

MIAMI – Call it the miracle on Miami’s North Bayshore Drive.

Authorities and witnesses say that a palm tree likely saved the life of Joey Williams, a 4-year-old boy who fell Friday morning from a 17th-floor balcony after chasing a balloon through his apartment home at the Doubletree Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay.

The boy opened a sliding glass door, climbed over a covered balcony railing, bounced off the crown of the palm tree and safely landed on the ``dirt surface’’ of an area surrounding the hotel’s 10th-floor pool, said Kenia Reyes, a Miami police spokeswoman.

``It’s a miracle — he doesn’t appear to have broken a bone,’’ said Reyes, who said the boy was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he remained Saturday afternoon in good condition.

Milagros Chirinos, who works in customer service at the condo-hotel, said the boy fell off the balcony after pursuing a balloon through his home.

After the boy landed near the pool deck, she saw the boy’s reported grandfather carrying his grandson before the paramedics arrived and that ``the mother was so shocked she nearly fainted.’’ The family lived in a condo in the building at 1717 N. Bayshore Drive.

Another hotel official told Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4 that the boy hit the crown of the palm tree and then struck a shrub before landing near the cement pool deck.

``We saw a real miracle here,’’ said Brendan Grubb, the condo-hotel general manager.

Jay Moseley, who was on the pool deck, told WFOR he heard a loud thud and saw the child on the ground. ``It was like God’s hand was on him as he came down,’’ he said.

Police later reported that the boy’s 23-year-old mother Elizabeth Nicolas had come out of the bathroom and noticed the open balcony doors. Jerry Unawich, the boy’s grandfather, told investigators he had been in the kitchen and was unaware the child had slipped through the sliding glass door.

Nicolas, reached by telephone, declined comment to a Miami Herald reporter.

Family members face no criminal charges because the incident was an accident, said police, who referred the case to the state Department of Children and Families.

Lt. Ignatius Carroll, a spokesman for Miami Fire Rescue, was astonished the boy had survived, saying the boy may have dropped 70 to 80 feet. He said he’s seen people die from falls of 30 feet.

He said boy was crying when paramedics arrived and had difficulty speaking but physically appeared fine.

``He looked to be in pretty good shape. He wasn’t all banged up like we expected,‘’ he said. ``It’s amazing that he’s alive.’’

While the child fell from the 17th to the 10th floor of the building, it was only a six floor fall because there is no 13th floor.