Doting Uncle Killed in Freak Accident While Playing With 6-Year-Old Niece at Playground

tire swing

A horrifying and tragic accident happened on a playground in broad daylight when an uncle was playing with his niece in the East Village in New York City. Aleim Perkins, 39, was with his 6-year-old niece Leela at Tompkins Square Park after school at around 3:30 p.m. on Monday. They were playing together at the park and Perkins was pushing an empty tire swing when it hit him in the face, killing him.

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The tire swing reportedly weighed around 25 pounds and is made of plastic polyethylene, which is a very hard plastic. It was said that Perkins was pushing the swing "aggressively," and when it hit him in the face, he was knocked unconscious and was bleeding from the mouth. Leela rushed to his side and was stunned. Twelve-year-old Savon Epps was there when it happened and said, "He crouched to get out of the way, but it was going too fast. It hit him on the left cheek. He just plopped down." An ambulance was called and Perkins was rushed to Bellevue Hospital but died as a result of his injuries.

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We have all played on tire swings. Some of us may have also pushed a swing very hard. Many of us have been hit by a swing -- you look away at your child for one second and it can happen. But dying as a result of getting hit by a swing on a playground is the furthest thing from our minds. I've played at this very same park with my kids -- we may have even been on that same swing. It's a busy spot with tons of kids and families and older folks smiling and feeding the birds. A typical NYC playground, lively, exciting, lots to do, and a happy place for kids. To have this happen here -- at any playground -- is so unexpected and terrifying. It makes me wonder if these swings are too dangerous.

The "Arch Tire Swing" is made by Landscape Structures and has been in use at the park since 2009. The City Parks Department has expressed their condolences and is investigating the accident and checking the safety of the playground's equipment.

Perkins's neighbor Maurice Vandross said, "His routine was to go to work, then pick up his niece from school. He planned his day around her." This is so sad. My heart goes out to the family, especially Leela. 

Are you now concerned about tire swings?


Image via Bre LaRow/Flickr

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