2021 | Government

New law, prompted by child’s death, intended to prevent falls from windows

Measure honors 2-year-old boy who died after fall in Takoma Park

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County Executive Marc Elrich (center, at table) and County Council President Tom Hucker sign Ezechiel's Law on Tuesday. Ezechiel's mother, Alvine Nguemezi, is behind Hucker in pink and white.

Photo by Steve Bohnel

A new county law aiming to keep young children from falling out of windows bears the name of a 2-year-old boy who died after a fall in Takoma Park in October.

The law, sponsored by County Council President Tom Hucker, requires landlords of multifamily apartment buildings to install window guards at no charge to the tenant in certain cases, including: 

  • If a child younger than 11 is in the apartment
  • If a tenant requests a window guard in writing

The law, which the County Council unanimously approved, is named after Ezechiel Nguemezi, a 2-year-old boy who fell out of a Takoma Park apartment building.

At a bill signing ceremony Tuesday, Malvin Tingwei, an aunt of Ezechiel’s, read a statement on behalf of his mother, Alvine.

Ezechiel was a smart, lively child who would light up a room, Tingwei said. She also thanked county officials for making apartment buildings safe for young children, and hopes the county law turns into a state law.

“The cost of the window guard is very small compared to what happened, if a child climbs up to a window ledge. … This is why I not only want to see other counties [pass this law],” Tingwei said on behalf of Alvine.

The new law is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Alvine said in an interview with Bethesda Beat that she hopes other families don’t have to experience what she and her family did.

George Garrow, the family’s attorney, said he hopes the Maryland General Assembly considers a bill next session, or that other Maryland counties follow the same course.

Hucker said in an interview with Bethesda Beat that it’s not often in policymaking that issues are inexpensive to solve, and uncomplicated.

He added that the law should have been drafted a long time ago, but he is glad council members could pass something quickly once the legislative process started.

“It’s really meaningful,” Hucker said of the new law. “I’ve got a list in my head of the ones I want on my tombstone, and this is going to be one of them. It’s a real lifesaver.”

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com