CHICAGO — A woman was charged after police said she pushed her 3-year-old nephew into Lake Michigan.
Victoria Moreno, 34, was charged with felony attempted first-degree murder and felony aggravated battery of a child after she was arrested Monday.
A police source on Tuesday told WGN Investigates that Navy Pier surveillance video appears to show a woman throwing the 3-year-old boy into Lake Michigan. Police said Moreno did not attempt to rescue the boy.
Fire officials said the boy was pulled from the water in the 700 block of East Grand Avenue around 1 p.m. Monday.
Moreno is the boy’s aunt. A police report said the boy was in the care of his grandmother Monday. When his grandmother went upstairs to change, the boy’s aunt took him out of the home.
The distress call first came shortly after 1 p.m. But it was Ashton King, a bystander, who dialed 911. King and a friend were in Chicago from out of town. They’d just been on a boat and were on the north side of the pier.
“As we were walking my girlfriend said, ‘Did you hear that splash?’ I said, ‘No,’” King said.
King said they then they spotted a woman looking into the water.
“Obviously we were curious … We didn’t expect to look down and see a little boy,” she said. “We saw him floating on his back. We turned to her and we’re like, ‘Do you know him? Were you with him when he fell in? Are you with him?’ And she never gave me a clear concise answer. … I called 911 and on 911 I was frantic. ‘There’s a child in the water.’ I was trying to get my bearings so they could find us.”
As King was on the phone, she remembered seeing something farther back.
“I’m on the phone and remembered seeing a big red case holding the life preserver and I remember thinking go get that, go get that,” she said.
As her friend ran to get the life preserver, the boy went under the water.
With both women wondering whether they should jump in, they realized they’d have no way to get back up.
“We both had our shoes off at one point,” King said. “It actually is a big drop. It’s not like you just walk into the water. It’s a big drop.”
First responders arrived and as divers prepared to go in, King’s friend snapped a picture, identifying a woman next to the stop sign as Moreno.
“She looked unwell, like she wasn’t really all there. It was bizarre to me,” King said. “She seemed scared but I don’t know if it was scared for him or for her.”
The incident report said Moreno initially told police she was a witness too before admitting she was the boy’s aunt. She said she brought him to Navy Pier to “go on the rides” but he was “acting up” so she “let go of his shirt and [he] fell in the water.”
The 3-year-old was in cardiac arrest when he was lifted from the water off Navy Pier and arrived at Lurie Children’s Hospital in very critical condition. The boy is currently on life support and has had multiple heart attacks and seizures. He was in the water for about 30 minutes before he was rescued.
His family asked WGN News not to name him, but are welcoming all thoughts and prayers being sent their way.
The child’s father is in the hospital as well and has been there for a long time. Known to many on social media as “L-VAD-Dad,” he’s been waiting on a new heart.
Moreno was denied bail and ordered to have no contact with the victim, with witnesses or any family members. Court documents said Moreno has a history of mental illness but doesn’t have a criminal record.
She is due back in court on Sept. 30.
Authorities have not released the surveillance video from Navy Pier.
Navy Pier officials issued a statement Tuesday that reads the following:
“Navy Pier is profoundly saddened by this incomprehensible tragedy. We work diligently and proactively to ensure the safety of our guests. We have more than 500 cameras throughout the Pier that record activity on site. Thanks to this technology, the Chicago Police Department was able to use real-time evidence when evaluating the details of this case. This incident involving a young boy was an isolated occurrence that the police continue to investigate. We are immensely grateful for the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Police Department’s rescue efforts. Our hearts are with the child’s loved ones.”