Nutter Responds to Girl's Death at Rita's Water Ice

A three-year-old girl was killed after a 2,000-pound security gate at Rita's Water Ice in Philadelphia came crashing down on her Saturday afternoon.

Wynter Larkin was standing outside a Rita's location at 2829 Girard Ave. in Philadelphia's Brewerytown neighborhood around 4 p.m. when the accident occurred, according to reports.

An ambulance rushed the girl to Hahnemann University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 5:02 p.m., according to officials.

Police say Wynter was with her mother, Cheryl Larkin, attending a fundraising event for the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority when the tragedy occurred.

Officials with Philadelphia's Licenses and Inspections arrived on the scene shortly after the deadly accident and shut down the Rita's. An investigation continued Monday. Neighbors tell NBC10 issues with the gate's ability to lock to the frame have been apparent for some time.

Scott Mulderig of L&I said the limited number of staff made it prohibitive to check the thousands of awnings around the city. Mayor Michael Nutter weighed in.

"It seems almost impossible that the department of the licenses and inspections would inspect every grate and fixture on every building," said Nutter. 

Maintenance, care and inspections of roll down security gates are the responsibility of the property owner, according to City of Philadelphia property codes. The city's response was not welcomed news to Juliet Askew, who runs a day care a few doors away from the Rita's.

"I think L&I should come out and check all of our awnings because we don't know," said Askew. 

Property records list P&G Development as the owner. Attempts to reach P&G were unsuccessful.

L&I officials say they inspect these gates if they receive complaints of apparent defects. There are no open violations, and there is no violation history related to the gate, according to L&I.

Rita's Italian Ice, the shop's parent company, released a statement about the crash.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the child's family," said Rita's spokeswoman Linda Duke. "Due to the current investigation we really cannot comment about the unfortunate incident."

Friends and family members have told NBC10 that the funeral for Larkin is planned for this Saturday at the Old Enon Tabernacle Church, 230 West Coulter St, at 10 a.m. The funeral is open to the public.

Sarah Glover contributed to this article. 

Contact Alison Burdo at 610.668.5635, or follow @NewsBurd on Twitter.

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