PHILADELPHIA (TheBlaze/AP) — "It was more than a thud. It was a big bang, some people thought it was a gunshot," Alison Brady told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.
The sound was a metal security gate that detached from the facade of an Italian ice shop Saturday afternoon and fell to the ground, killing a 3-year-old girl, police said.
The security door fell on the child at a Rita's Water Ice store in north Philadelphia at around 4:30 p.m., according to the Philadelphia Police Department. The girl was taken to a hospital and died after arrival.
Photos from the scene show the black metal gate lying on the sidewalk, pink balloons still tied to it in front of the shop's red and white striped awning. Several popped balloons appear trapped underneath the gate.
"We saw the awning laying on the ground but didn't realize there was a baby under the awning until the mother started screaming," Tracey Standford told WPVI.
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Friends said 3-year-old Wynter Larkin was with her mother Cheryl at an annual fundraiser at Rita's for the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
That's when the gate, which weighs more than 500 pounds, fell and crushed the toddler.
Witnesses say as many as 20 or more men struggled to lift the gate and hold it in the air.
"The gentleman from Omega Psi Phi were holding the awning up and the little girl was on the ground and they were trying to resuscitate her," said Kealy Dangerfield Enlow.
Officials with the Department of Licenses and Inspections were investigating, police said.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the child's family," said Linda Duke, a spokeswoman for Rita's Italian Ice, the shop's parent company. "Due to the current investigation we really cannot comment about the unfortunate incident."