Aunt accused of pushing 3-year-old nephew into Lake Michigan, making no attempt to rescue him




By Maher Kawash 


CHICAGO — A 34-year-old Illinois woman faces felony attempted murder and aggravated battery charges in connection with an incident that left a 3-year-old boy in “very critical” condition near Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Victoria Moreno of Des Plaines was arrested Monday just before 2 p.m. after being accused of pushing her nephew into Lake Michigan, Chicago police said Wednesday morning.

Moreno did not attempt to rescue the boy, police said.

She appeared in bond court Wednesday afternoon, where a judge denied her bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 30.

According to prosecutors, the 3-year-old was also with Moreno during a previous incident a week earlier, in which she allegedly stole the family’s car and took her two nieces and nephew to Navy Pier, but the older niece called relatives to get them.

Moreno has additionally been ordered to have no contact with her family.

His family was around the child’s bedside on Tuesday at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. They are asking for privacy, and his grandfather, Dan Brown, said they need “a lot of prayer right now.”

“Everybody’s prayer helps,” Brown said. “God makes things happen. That’s what we are banking on right now.”

Police said the child went tumbling several feet into the lake, nearly drowning about 1 p.m. Monday near the north end of Navy Pier. He was walking with his aunt on the path next to the lake, before going into the water.

Divers with the Chicago Fire Department pulled the child to dry land before rushing him to the hospital in full cardiac arrest.

Brown described his grandson as “just a bundle of joy” who is “full of energy, wants to do everything” and “loves his dad.”

“I just want to give thanks to those who were there to respond,” Brown said. “The situation is bad, but it could have been worse, so we have a praying chance that he makes it through, and that’s all we are hoping for at this point.”

Investigators said the boy spent hours undergoing treatment as police remained at Navy Pier, working to determine what exactly happened.

“As with incidents involving children, these are difficult circumstances, and, again, we ask that you keep the family in your thoughts,” said CPD Deputy Chief Gabriella Shemash.

The 3-year-old was last listed in “very critical” condition at the hospital. At bond court Wednesday, prosecutors told the judge the boy is not expected to survive and charges could be upgraded.

Surveillance video shows the woman pushed him toward the edge of the pier and tossed him into the water, the source said. The boy wasn’t expected to survive, the source said.

A witness said they noticed the boy running around seemingly unsupervised just before the incident.

Other witnesses on the scene described it as an odd situation, with the aunt just standing by while the child was in the water.

The woman who called 911 explained the horror of the entire situation.

The woman said she wanted to jump in and help, but had to consider the factors of doing so while helping first responders get to the correct location.

She and her friend threw a lifesaver into the water as another man was already down there trying to help.

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