Prosecutors revealed tragic new details on what happened the day a woman allegedly pushed her 3-year-old nephew into Lake Michigan off Navy Pier in a heartbreaking incident at the popular Chicago attraction.
Victoria Moreno, of Des Plaines, appeared in bond court on charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery of a child under the age of 13. A judge ordered her held without bail.
In court Wednesday, prosecutors alleged Moreno, who lives with her family, snuck the young boy from the house and took a vehicle without her family's permission. According to the Cook County State's Attorney's office, the 34-year-old is not allowed to drive due to a medication she is currently taking for mental health concerns.
Moreno is accused of driving into Chicago with the child and traveling to Navy Pier before buying him a Happy Meal. As the two began walking along the pier, she allowed the child to crawl under a fence where, eventually, she pushed him off the platform, causing him to fall 6-and-a-half-feet into Lake Michigan waters, prosecutors said.
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Witnesses heard the child fall into the water, and prosecutors said Moreno denied knowing what happened and did not cry for help.
Police said Moreno was arrested just before 2 p.m. Monday in the 700 block of East Grand Avenue, off Navy Pier.
"[Moreno] did not attempt to rescue the victim," police said in a release. "The victim was pulled from the water by emergency personnel and transported to an area hospital in critical condition."
The boy was in the water for 30 minutes before he was rescued, officials said. He suffered critical brain injuries and went into cardiac arrest. Prosecutors said the child is not expected to survive and charges against Moreno could change with his condition.
The charges come after witnesses told NBC 5 that surveillance video showed the child was pushed toward the water "clear as day."
According to one witness, once the video was viewed, a Chicago police officer asked the boy's guardian about the push, and the woman shrugged. When rescuers first arrived, the witness said the woman was initially "crying and playing the part." The witness spoke on a condition of anonymity to discuss matters still under investigation.
Another witness said the guardian was acting unusual as the boy was struggling in the water and did not give clear answers as people tried to rescue him. Officials have not said how the woman is related to the boy.
"She really was not active in any of the rescue help," said Ashton King. "Essentially as soon as we got there, she kind of backed away."
King was walking with a friend on the north side of the pier, and she said her friend heard a splash.
"We kind of sprung into action asking, 'Is this your son?' 'Who is this?'" said King. "[The woman] didn't really give us a clear response at all, which was very bizarre to us."
Chicago police said they received a 911 call around 1 p.m. about a boy in the water. Dive teams were deployed to the area and rescuers pulled the boy out. A witness said the boy was in the water for about 15 minutes. The boy was pulled out in cardiac arrest and was taken to Lurie Children's Hospital in critical condition, according to authorities.
King, a mother of two, said the woman didn't call 911 or ask them to call 911. Other witnesses found a life ring within minutes and threw it in the water, she said.
"By the time we had thrown it in the water, unfortunately the little boy had gone under," said King.
King said she also saw the interaction between police and the guardian after police had viewed Navy Pier's surveillance video.
"Within less than five minutes, [the police] had kind of asked her [about the push] and she just folded," said King.
The north side of Navy Pier is primarily used for parking and deliveries, but there is a walkway for pedestrians along the water. On Monday, Navy Pier released a statement about the rescue, and referred questions about the investigation to the Chicago Police Department.
“Navy Pier is deeply saddened to learn about the injury of a child pulled from the water this afternoon," the statement read. "We are working very closely with the Chicago Police Department as they investigate the incident. Our hearts are with the child and his loved ones.”
Moreno was represented by a public defender in court. She is next expected to appear before a judge on Sept. 30.