Fairfax County schools halt use of motorized room partitions after 9-year-old crushed, killed

- Grief counselors were on hand at a Northern Virginia elementary school following the death of a 9-year-old boy who was killed in a bizarre accident last week.

Officials say Wesley Lipicky, a third-grade student at Franconia Elementary School in Fairfax County, was participating in an after-school program Friday when he and a teacher simultaneously pressed a button to open a large, motorized room partition.

Investigators say Wesley suffered a traumatic head injury when he became caught between the partition and a wall.

Wesley was later pronounced dead at a hospital Friday night. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be accidental and authorities said they do not expect to bring charges.

"The grief and anguish of the family is unfathomable," said the Franconia Elementary School PTA in a post on Facebook on Sunday.

In a letter, Franconia Elementary Principal Terri Edmunds-Heard said that she was deeply saddened by Wesley's death. "He was an endearing child whose bright smile and enthusiasm for school inspired the love of all who knew him," she said in part.

As a memorial grows outside the school, district officials announced that they would immediately stop using the motorized partitions until a safety review was conducted.

"There have been no other reports of injuries before with these doors as we best understand it and we want to make sure that those doors are safe for our students and staff and to reassure our community that we're going to do a moratorium on them and figure out the appropriate next steps after we've conducted the review," Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand told FOX 5.

"We have safety protocols in place for the use of these doors and we'll be reviewing those protocols," Brabrand continued. "We're going to be reaching out to the manufacturer to understand the specifics and mechanics of how this thing works and we'll do the appropriate safety review. But I absolutely understand that this is a tragedy and no parent should have to send their child to school and have what happened on Friday."

A memorial service will be held for Wesley at All Saints Sharon Chapel on 3421 Franconia Rd. in Alexandria on Thursday at 3 p.m.

Wesley was a "young penguin lover whose life was taken too soon," according to the Penguins International Wesley Charles Lipicky Memorial Fund, which the family asked donations to be made to in lieu of flowers.

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