A toddler was trapped alone with her mother’s corpse for five days inside a city homeless shelter, her father contends in horrifying court papers.
Lyric Laboy was just 15-months-old when workers at the East River Family Center found her huddled under a bed on July 25 near the body of her mom, Shelbi Westlake, 26, who had died of an accidental overdose, according to the city Medical Examiner’s office.
Lyric, “covered in human feces” and badly dehydrated, was rushed to the hospital, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court petition filed by her dad, Quraan Laboy, 31, who plans to sue the city and the Department of Homeless Services for $5 million in damages.
The agency denied Lyric was left alone for five days, but didn’t say how long it was.
The incident is under investigation, the agency said, adding the shelter is now required to conduct same-night wellness checks for any resident who hasn’t signed the nightly roster.
The beautiful little girl has not fully recovered.
“I don’t know how long she will suffer with this. She has a lot of separation anxiety,” Laboy said of his daughter, who lost seven pounds during the harrowing ordeal and now hates to leave his side.
The child has been “routinely slapping her dad while he’s sleeping to make sure he’s alive,” said Laboy’s attorney, Seth Harris.
Westlake and her daughter shared an apartment-like unit at the shelter at 325 East 104th St. in Manhattan, said Harris. The couple were separated, and the mom and baby had spent about three or four months there.
No one realized Westlake had died until a fellow resident reported a “foul odor” coming from her unit, according to legal papers. The mom had last signed in at the shelter on July 19, six days before her body was found, said Allison Keenan, another of Laboy’s attorneys.
“It’s amazing that she’s alive,” Harris said.
“Allowing an infant to remain with her dead mother for five days unnoticed not only highlights the indifference and lack of humanity shown to those most in need but exhibits complete malfeasance by the City of New York and Department of Homeless Services,” Keenan said.
Six months later, Lyric has regained the weight she lost, but cries out for her mother almost every night, her father said.
“She always wakes up in the middle of the night, she’s kicking, she’s fighting, saying, ‘Mommy,’ I look at her and I just start tearing up sometimes,” he said.
She was found with “horrific” diaper rash that has not fully healed, he said.
The Manhattan man said he left his job at the New York City Housing Authority to take care of his daughter full time.
“I had to drop everything. She’s my number one priority right now,” he said. “My daughter’s gotta deal with this mentally for the rest of her life.”
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