‘Terrible Accident’: Motorized Room Partition That Killed Boy in Virginia School Worked Properly, Company Says

The company that made the motorized room partition that killed a little boy inside his school in Virginia on Friday says the device worked correctly and the child's death was a "terrible accident."

Wesley Lipicky was killed Friday after he was crushed between the partition and a wall at Franconia Elementary School in Alexandria. He was 9 years old and in third grade.

Modernfold, an Indiana company that made the partition, says the device was working when Lipicky was injured.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Wesley Lipicky. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends and the entire community. Based on what’s known at this time, all indications are that the partition was functioning properly and this was a terrible accident. We will continue to be a resource to the school in any way that we can," Modernfold's managing director, Bryan Welch, said in a statement.

Lipicky was in the school gym about 4:45 p.m. Friday when he and a teacher simultaneously pressed a button to open the partition, police said.

Lipicky was caught between the partition and a wall and suffered traumatic head injuries. He died at a hospital Friday night.

An autopsy found his death was accidental. Police say no charges are expected. The teacher is on administrative leave.

Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand stopped all use of the partitions while the incident is investigated and safety protocols are reviewed.

"We're going to do a complete, comprehensive review and make sure that something like this never happens again in Fairfax County schools. It is a true tragedy," Brabrand said.

School officials said safety protocols are in place but did not tell News4 what those were or whether they were followed. Children are not supposed to operate the partitions, the superintendent said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating. Virginia state officials said they would look into any other accidents involving room partitions.

In New York, the partitions have been linked to two deaths. Schools are required to install safety devices to stop the partitions if a body is detected between the device and a wall. Virginia education officials said they were not aware of any such requirements on the state level. 

Lipicky's obituary was published in The Washington Post on Tuesday.

"Wesley was such a wonderful son. It's hard to put into words how much he means to so many. He was an excellent student, a true friend to so many, a wildlife (especially penguins) lover, a teammate, companion, and the best son any parent could have ever hoped for. It's so hard to imagine a world without his glowing presence," it said.

A memorial service was set to be held Thursday. 

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