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Investigation: Swing Set Collapse Caused By Missing Equipment

Sarasota Herald Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: June 1, 2013 at 07:27 PM

MANATEE COUNTY -- A county sheriff's office investigation into the December swing set accident that put a 2-year-old Palmetto girl in a coma revealed that the equipment was not anchored and bolts were missing.

The sheriff's office released reports Tuesday of the accident and detectives concluded that despite the problems with the swing set, there was no criminal negligence.

Lexi Antorino, 2, remained in a coma and on a ventilator Tuesday at All Children's Hospital, where she has been since the accident.

Lexi was playing on a swing set at the Palmetto Point Civic Association park Dec. 9 when the structure collapsed and a support beam fell on top of her, pinning her to the ground. She had serious head and neck injuries and lost a lot of blood.

A baby sitter was watching Lexi and two other children when the swing set collapsed.

In the reports, detectives noted that an inspection of the swing set revealed "that bolts holding the swing set were missing. In addition, the swing set was not anchored by any type of cement anchoring system."

A detective wrote that parts of the swing set were "a little rusty." Also missing was an end cap on one side that would hold a support pole in place.

"I did not see the bolts or endcap piece on the ground," one detective wrote.

A surveillance camera at the park caught the Dec. 9 accident on tape. The tape shows the children swinging happily and being pushed forward one at a time by baby sitter Joanna Janney, 14.

Suddenly, as Lexi swings forward and the other two girls seem to be going backwards, the right side of the set begins to give way. Then the entire set collapses, and the top bar juts forward slightly as it comes down, crushing Lexi beneath it.

Janney is seen running immediately to the front of the set, lifting the bar off Lexi and carrying her to a nearby pavilion for help.

A neighborhood resident, Richard Fowler, performed CPR.

She was taken to All Children's, where she has been since. Her parents, Sarah and Nicholas Antorino, are by her side every day. The pair married after Lexi's accident.

"She's showing a lot of movement but she is still in a coma," said Sarah Antorino, who is 8 months pregnant with the couple's second child. "We are seeing a lot of little miracles."

Sarah Antorino said Lexi shrugs her shoulders and stretches when her mother speaks to her.

"I swear she smiled one day," Sarah Antorino said.

Lexi's parents are learning how to take care of her because they will be taking her home soon. Doctors have not said anything new about Lexi's condition, Sarah Antorino said.

"I know what the future holds, in my mind and my heart," she said.

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