Butte resident recounts child's fall from apartment window


BUTTE, Mont. - Butte police say a 1-year-old fell from a third-story window last Friday, when she pushed on the screen to look outside. The infant was taken to St. James Hospital and she survived the fall without injuries.

It happened at one of the Silver Bow Village apartment buildings, on Evans Avenue south of Uptown Butte.

"I heard this, 'Help!'" said Butte resident Tracie Dobb. "And I looked out my window and saw my screen to the left, and then I looked over and saw the baby to the right."

Dobb lives just two floors below where the infant fell.

A mother of two, she said she panicked once she realized the infant had fallen from the top floor. She tried to crawl out her first-floor window to get to the child. That's when the she saw the baby's father jump from the third floor to get to his child quicker.

"I ripped open the curtain, pushed out, barely touched it and went out, but he had already jumped down like Batman, and grabbed the baby," said Dobb.

All the residents we spoke to said the window screens in their apartments come out very easily, and they take that into consideration when child-proofing their homes.

"Don't put the beds there, that's the No. 1 thing. Don't put anything where they can climb on, where they can get out there, like bookshelves. Kids are monkeys when they're tiny," said Dobb.

Neighbors said the incident made them rethink they way they baby-proof their homes.

"Of course, being a mom of a little crazy kid, instantly thought of him always standing, looking out the window," said neighbor Julia Guay.

Guay lives in the same apartment complex, and showed us some methods she takes to secure the windows and doors.

"These are locks," she showed us. "And then these also clicks down, so if he did try, they can't get it open. They're actually really hard to get into. You have to push both buttons, and turn at the same time for him to open it."

Guay said being a mom is tough, and she's learned she has to keep an eye on her 4-year-old constantly.

"Anything could happen in a split of a second," she said. "You never know what could happen even if you are watching them, because obviously she was watching and she still fell."

Both Guay and Dobb said they were glad to learn the little girl was alright.

We went to Butte's Triple S Building Center for answers on how to baby-proof windows. The sales manager there told us, while there's no guarantee, hardware stores do sell inexpensive items that can help keep screens in place.

The manger showed us a metal screen that can be mounted to the outside of the home -- simple window locks and metal turn buttons that lock the screen in place.

The best bet for the apartment buildings is turn buttons if you're a renter and can't put too many holes in the walls.

The sales manager pointed out that screens aren't meant to hold much weight.

"The way that screens are built, because they're light-weight, they're not built heavy duty to withstand any pressure against them. They're just mainly for ventilation. Any of this stuff here, if you want to secure it, this is the best way to do it," said Triple S Sales Manager Ken Dagen.

Child-proof items range in price from $3 to $30 and can be found at any hardware or home improvement store.