RUMFORD — One of two autistic toddlers who fell about 16 feet out a second-floor window on Monday afternoon at their Cumberland Street apartment suffered minor injuries, their parents said Tuesday.
Other than a few scratches from the icy snowbank they landed on, Madison, 3, and Aiden, 2, were doing fine early Tuesday evening, mom Angela Malchisky and dad Michael Smith said.
“Honestly, no broken bones, no bruises, no cuts, no scrapes, no nothing,” Smith said. “I mean the little guy has like a scratch over his eye and that's just about it.”
While Aiden colored at the kitchen table with mom, his sister lay on the living room floor sucking her thumb and twirling her hair while watching the movie “Cars” on television.
The couple, who are engaged, said their worst nightmare was realized after they put the children in their bedroom for a nap. A friend came over for Pepsi and burgers that Smith cooked in the kitchen right outside the children's room.
Malchisky said the children usually fool around and throw stuff at the walls, which is why they don't have much in the bedroom other than a mattress on the floor.
"There's not too much in there for safety reasons," Malchisky said.
Ten minutes after putting the children to bed, at about 3:30 p.m., Angela said a neighbor came running up and told them one of their children fell out the window into the alley.
Malchisky said she ran down the stairs as fast as she could, fearing the worst. Smith said he was so frightened he kicked in the bedroom door rather than just turn the knob and open it, hoping to prevent the other child from falling out, too.
But there wasn't another child inside.
“My heart just dropped," he said. "It was the worst case scenario rushing through my head — broken bones, protruding bones. I didn't really know what to expect and, of course, I'm staring down at them from the window."
Down on the ground, Malchisky said Madison was standing up and trying to walk off while Aiden was sitting on a pillow on the snowbank and crying, blood coming out of a small cut above his eye.
"They weren't laying there looking dead like some people have been telling the TV people," Malchisky said.
Third-floor neighbor Linda Leonard said she, too, ran down to help.
“I was upstairs in my apartment when I heard bloody blue screaming, 'Babies fell out the window!'” she said.
“So I went running downstairs and they were in the alley. I thought they were dead when I first got on the scene, but they were just scared and shocked.”
Leonard and Malchisky said they didn't let people touch the children until Med-Care Ambulance paramedics arrived for fear that they may have broken bones.
Med-Care took the children to Rumford Hospital where Malchisky said they were examined, and then as a precaution called in LifeFlight to fly them to Maine Medical Center in Portland for complete check-ups.
But both children were fine, Smith said.
As for what happened, neither Smith nor Malchisky know. They said the children's autism may have something to do with it.
"They think they can fly, they don't know fear, they don't understand pain, and they're very smart," Malchisky said.
She said she believes Madison climbed onto the windowsill, which wasn't built to code and 36 inches from the floor, and unlocked the window.
Smith, a retired carpenter, said the Stanley window is designed to prevent children from pushing the window up once it's unlocked, but the safety mechanism was broken.
Both parents said they weren't aware of this. They had moved into an upstairs apartment about nine months ago from Peru, but it had several problems and was eventually deemed uninhabitable by Rumford officials, Smith said.
So rather than return their $900 security deposit, he said the landlord offered the family a second-floor apartment.
Malchisky said she believes her daughter may have pushed Aiden out the window, and then jumped out.
That can't happen again. Smith fixed the window frame so the window can't be lifted high enough for a child to fall out.
However the children went out the window, they took blanket and pillows down with them and that may have saved their lives, Malchisky said.