Family Sues Over Chicago Grate Collapse That Impaled 5-Year-old Boy

Five-year-old Sean Zdonek fell through the grate at 433 W. Briar Place while chasing a ball. His family says he was impaled on a piece of metal, but survived.

The family of a 5-year-old boy who fell through a grate at his grandparents' North Side Chicago condo building has filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging the building failed to maintain the grate and allowed it to fall into disrepair.

Surveillance video at the scene shows the grate outside the building at 433 W. Briar Place giving way after the boy, Sean Zdonek, stepped onto it to retrieve a football. His terrified grandfather is seen running and jumping into the pit below after he fell.

"He unfortunately was impaled on a piece of metal, which went clean through him," the family's attorney, G. Grant Dixon, told NBC 5. "It went from just below his belly button out his back."

Dixon said the boy, who has since turned 6 years old, miraculously survived the accident because the metal missed his vital organs and had dislodged by the time the grandfather reached him. But he has struggled with many medical issues stemming from the incident.

"Just a week ago he was in Northwestern Hospital again getting more surgeries," Dixon said. "His condition was life threatening. He nearly passed."

The building's management company did not respond to a request for comment, and calls to the condo association went unanswered. But Dixon said he believes the incident should be seen as a cautionary tale for all.

"Anybody who lives in the city and particularly downtown Chicago is gonna walk over grates like this," he said. "If you look at this grate it looked perfectly normal. It's a hidden danger, and the family hopes other people will pay attention to this, people who have these buildings get them inspected, and get them fixed."

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