9-year-old boy dies after being crushed by motorized room partition at Virginia school

- Officials say a 9-year-old boy has died in Fairfax County after he was crushed by a motorized room partition at Franconia Elementary School on Friday.

Fairfax County police say Wesley Lipicky was seriously injured on Friday afternoon while at the school in Alexandria in the School Age Child Care (SACC) program.

According to police, a teacher and Wesley both simultaneously pressed a button to open the large, motorized room partition that splits in the middle.

According to officials, the boy became caught between the partition and a wall and suffered traumatic head injuries. They say he was pronounced dead at the hospital Friday night.

Investigators say an autopsy from Saturday found his death to be accidental. They say no charges are expected in this tragic case.

In a letter, Franconia Elementary Principal Terri Edmunds-Heard said 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."

Edmunds-Heard said there will be a team of staff at Franconia to support students, staff, and parents in the days ahead. "The team will help our classroom teachers talk with students and handle their questions and reactions."

She also added that the school will be working with police in their investigation.

The full letter: 

Dear Parents,

I am deeply saddened to report to you the death of third grade student Wesley Lipicky, who died late yesterday from injuries he received in a tragic accident that occurred in the school gym during SACC.  

Any death is difficult for children to understand; Wesley’s death is particularly difficult due to his young age and its unexpectedness. If you and your family knew Wesley, I encourage you to talk about this.  A team of Franconia support staff members including our counselors, psychologist, social worker and members of an FCPS crisis team will be available to support students, staff, and parents in the days ahead.  The team will help our classroom teachers talk with students and handle their questions and reactions.

Children have different reactions to death. There is additional information with this letter that may help you as you talk with your child. Please contact the school if your child is having difficulty with the news, and needs an opportunity to speak to someone when school resumes.

Fairfax County Police are investigating the accident and we will be supporting them as they look into the circumstances that caused this terrible loss.

On behalf of all members of the Franconia community, our deepest condolences are with Wesley’s family and friends during this difficult time.  We will miss Wesley very much. He was an endearing child whose bright smile and enthusiasm for school inspired the love of all who knew him.

Thank you for your support and understanding.

Sincerely,

Terri Edmunds-Heard, Principal 


Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand also released a statement:

I am deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Our first priority is supporting the family, students and staff as they cope with this sudden loss. Our crisis counselors will be onsite Monday to assist the school.
We are working closely with law enforcement and County officials to review this accident and to review safety protocols and procedures.

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