Toddler falls through bleachers during graduation

Posted at 6:43 PM, Jun 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-12 18:49:36-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- It was a sound that took Joyce Harris' breath from her.  She was at her great niece's high school graduation ceremony at the Seigel Center on Monday.

"All of the sudden you heard this loud 'thump-thump,'" said Harris.

When she peered through a crack in the bleachers behind her, Harris saw a toddler, around three to four years old, lying on the ground underneath the stands.

VCU public relations, who handle media requests for the Seigel Center, confirmed that a young child fell through the bleachers at L.C. Bird's graduation on Monday night.  The child was rushed to VCU Medical Center.

"I can't even fathom in my mind how it happened," said Harris.

The child was motionless for several minutes and did not make a sound, according to Harris.

"We were like, 'Lord, please let him cry; let the baby cry," said Harris.  "I was praying for the best, but my heart was telling me otherwise.  That's how bad it was, that's how loud."

The worst part of the past few days has been not knowing the child's condition, Harris said.  However, sources with direct knowledge of the incident told CBS 6 News on Wednesday the toddler is out of the hospital and back home recovering with its family.

"That's just a relief," said Harris through tears.  "That's how horrific it was. Thank God!"

L.C. Bird's graduation ceremony continued despite the fall and stir it caused in the stands.  It was not been determined exactly how the child fell through the bleachers.

Chesterfield County schools said they cannot comment on the incident because of federal and state laws, and the Richmond Ambulance Authority could not release information on the child's condition due to HIPPA laws.