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Mother of Tampa girl killed by broken gate files suit

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 03:35 PM
TAMPA -

The mother of a 7-year-old girl killed by a falling metal gate has filed suit against the apartment complex where the child died.

Coretta Williams is seeking damages of more than $15,000 from Brookside Apartments, according to a civil complaint filed Monday.

Williams' daughter, Zhanaye, was waiting for her school bus April 11 when she, her brother and several classmates started playing a game on a heavy metal gate at an entrance to the complex, police said.

The sliding gate was broken, and it was left leaning against a fence, witnesses told police.

Zhanaye put her feet on the lower rung of the gate and held on, police said. Two boys, one of them her 9-year-old brother Christian, then pushed and pulled on the gate, making it sway.

The gate tipped over too far and Zhanaye couldn't outrun it, police said. The Riverhills Elementary School student was pinned between the metal gate and the asphalt road.

The topmost rung struck Zhanaye in the temple, crushing her skull, the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office said.

Coretta Williams claims the owners of the apartment complex failed to properly maintain their property and allowed "dangerous conditions to exist," the complaint says.

The owners of Brookside, 5008 Sierra Place, Tampa, also did not fix "any dangerous conditions that were known" or warn residents of the dangers of the gate, the complaint said.

"The injuries sustained by Zhanaye Williams, while on the premises and which led to her death, were reasonably foreseeable," the complaint said.

The law firm representing Williams said owners of the complex have refused to settle out of court.

The attorney representing the complex said she has not yet received or reviewed Williams' complaint and that the two parties are still trying to reach an agreement.

"We're trying, at this particular point, to resolve this case," said Maria Trenzado.


rreyes@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7920

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