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Two-year-old girl killed by falling air conditioner remembered at vigil
Bryann Aguilar, CP24.com
Published Saturday, November 16, 2019 4:49PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 16, 2019 9:02PM EST
When he was having a bad day, Qasem Afzali said he could always rely on her two-year-old cousin Crystal Mirogho to lift his spirits.
"I felt really good just seeing her smile," said Afzali, who was joined by dozens on Saturday at a vigil to remember her young cousin.
The two-year-old died in hospital after being struck by an air conditioner that fell from an apartment window in Scarborough on Monday.
Emergency crews were called to a Toronto Community Housing complex on Lawrence Avenue East, near Mossbank Drive, shortly before 4 p.m.
A woman was entering the building with her three children when an AC unit came out of the window of an eighth-floor apartment and fell to ground-level, police said.
Investigators said the AC unit landed directly on the woman's two-year-old daughter, who was in a stroller. The toddler was rushed to a hospital in critical condition, but she later died from her injuries.
Attendees lit candles, laid teddy bears and flowers, and said prayers at the site of the incident.
"She's always smiling," said Afzali. "She was the cutest little angel."
The immediate family was not present at the vigil as they continue to grieve privately.
"We wanted to thank the public for the outpouring of support for our family while we are struggling to cope," the family said in a statement on Tuesday.
Afzali said the primary focus is to take care of the girl's sister and brother, who witnessed the incident.
"They cry at night before they go to sleep, asking for their sister," he said.
Parviz Paiwand, who attended the vigil, said he wanted to be there because he knew what the family is feeling.
"It was so painful for me to see this tragic accident," said Paiwand, who lost his son two weeks ago. "I could not stop crying since I heard this."
He said this kind of tragedy should be prevented from happening again.
Window air conditioners pose 'serious safety risk': report
A 2007 report commissioned by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) stated that of the more than 400 TCHC buildings with window air conditioners, many of the units are not properly installed and "pose a serious safety risk".
"We want to get to the bottom of all of those things," said the family's lawyer Slavko Ristich.
"It doesn't appear that they did anything since 2007. It looks like they revisited the issue again in 2017, and again, it doesn't appear that anything was done."
Ristich said if they that the TCHC was negligent in terms of how they maintain air conditioners, how they installed them, and how they supervise the building, then they could be responsible for any damages.
A TCHC spokesperson said Tuesday that a program run at the building in the summer of 2018 offered to swap out window-mounted air conditioners for floor models, free of charge.
"It's a safety issue," TCH spokesperson Bruce Malloch told The Canadian Press. "A floor model will not fall out of a window and (they) are also more energy efficient, and that has a safety component as well - not to overload the wires."
He said TCH recognizes that air conditioning units "can have a serious safety risk if they are not properly installed."
TCH tenants have to obtain permission from their landlord before installing AC units, and the units have to be installed by a professional who complies with safety regulations, Malloch said.
Mayor John Tory offered his condolences Tuesday and vowed that the city would conduct a "thorough" investigation into the tragic incident.
- with files from The Canadian Press