A 3-year-old boy survived after his aunt allegedly pushed him off a Chicago dock and carelessly watched him struggle in the waters below, officials said.
Victoria Moreno, 34, allegedly stole the family’s truck and snuck out of the Des Plaines home Monday with the toddler in tow, the Chicago-Sun Times reported.
He took his nephew to Lake Michigan and made him crawl across the ledge of the Navy Pier.
Moreno pulled him over the edge because other people were nearby, but after realizing no one was looking, he allegedly knocked him over with both hands and stood up as he struggled to stay afloat, prosecutors said Thursday in court.
“Not once during this incident did the defendant scream for help, ask for help, ask for help, or even try to help,” Assistant Prosecutor Lorraine Scaduto said during Moreno’s trial.
“When the police arrived, the defendant pretended not to know anything about the child.”
The Chicago Police Department pulled the boy from Lake Michigan in a “very critical condition” 30 minutes after the fall. He had a heart attack and is awaiting a heart transplant, but Scaduto says he is unlikely to survive.
Victoria Moreno is said to have taken her niece to Naval Pier in Chicago and pushed her off the cliff. Chicago Police Department
The boy’s grandfather, Dan Brown, told WLS-TV that the family was asking for prayers.
“Everyone’s prayers helped,” Brown said. “God makes things happen. That’s what we rely on now.”
Moreno was caught by surveillance footage committing the malicious act and reportedly told authorities he dropped him in the water.
Moreno’s nephew was in the water for 30 minutes, rescuers said. Dantrell Brown/Facebook
His aunt, who suffers from mental illness, had taken the boy and his two nephews to the docks the week before, reported Block Club Chicago. The eldest, 11, was so frightened by Moreno’s behavior that he called other family members to pick up the children.
Patrick Shine, Moreno’s public defender, said he suffered from “serious mental health problems” including anxiety, depression and insomnia. He suggested that he suffers from a psychotic disorder and had no intention of harming his nephew, and asked the judge to release him on bail so that he could seek professional help while he awaited trial.
Judge Susanna Ortiz, however, dismissed Shine’s objections, saying Moreno was “a danger to society – and to special family members and children in general.”
Chicago police retrieved the boy from Lake Michigan in “very critical condition.” FOX32 Moreno was caught by surveillance footage committing a malicious deed. FOX32 defense attorney Moreno said he had a history of mental illness. FOX32
“I can describe this act as a deliberate brutal and heinous act, and it is an act that demonstrates unintentional cruelty, pushing a child into a lake and making them suffer and fight back and provide no help whatsoever,” Ortiz said.
“The inability to control thoughts and impulses makes them a great danger to society as someone who acts with the intention of committing a mere bad deed.”
The suspect is charged with attempted first-degree murder and assault on a child under 13, resulting in permanent disability, police said Wednesday.
Moreno’s next trial date is September 30.