NEW MILFORD (AP) -- A bench from a folding table attached to a wall collapsed at a school during a recreational soccer practice, killing a 7-year-old boy preparing for his season opener, officials said.

Berkeley Street School in New Milford (ABC 7)

Brenden Jordan, a student at Gibbs Elementary School in New Milford, was attending an indoor recreation soccer program at the town's Berkley Street Elementary School on Wednesday night when he came near a fold-down table and benches stored in the wall.

A 108-pound wood and steel bench fell and struck the child in the head, Detective Lt. Frank Ramaci said in a news release. It's not yet known whether the boy touched the table or bench.

"At this time, there is no evidence of criminality, nor do we know if the bench was properly secured to the wall," Ramaci said.

School Superintendent Michael Polizzi told The Record newspaper that the table folds vertically into the wall and has benches attached to both sides. It is secured with a key. Polizzi said he didn't know if it had been properly locked.

He said the tables have been in "good working condition," and the school has never had a problem with them since they were installed about 11 years ago.

"It's a tremendous loss for all of us, a shock for the family especially," Polizzi said. "I can't imagine the void the family will feel.

School tables have led to students being injured or killed before.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned since the mid-1990s of the potential safety risks of mobile folding tables used in schools across the country, according to spokeswoman Patty Davis. Those tables are different than the ones used in the New Jersey school.

The commission has received reports of several deaths and injuries in schools when the mobile tables tipped over. It warned that most accidents happened during afterschool or nonschool activities and warned schools to not allow children to move the tables or play with them.

Davis said the commission is investigating the New Jersey accident.

John Bigger, the recreation director for New Milford, told The Record that the boy was a member of the borough's indoor soccer team and was with a group of six 7- and 8-year-old children practicing for their Sunday opener. He said practices in the gym were suspended for a few days while it is inspected, and he doesn't know if the team will play Sunday.

Grief counselors were made available at both schools.

 

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