Ang Lama, Mingma Sherpa and 2-Year-Old Lobsang Died In Basement Apartment In Queens During Flash Flood From Hurricane Ida
QUEENS, NEW YORK (September 3, 2021) – An immigrant couple from Nepal identified as Ang Lama and Mingma Sherpa have tragically died along with their 2-year-old son Ang (full name Lobsang) after their Queens basement apartment flooded.
New York City police officials are saying that the accident took place on Thursday morning. Ang Lama, Mingma Sherpa and Lobsang were in their basement apartment when flood waters began to pour in from the windows.
The windows for the apartment were barred making it impossible to escape through them. Neighbors are theorizing that the force of the water was so great that the family was not able to make it up the stairs.
Firefighters were eventually able to make it to the basement apartment and they discovered Ang Lama, Mingma Sherpa and Lobsang deceased. In all, 12 people have died so far in New York City due to flooding brought on by Hurricane Ida.
A full investigation into the Queens basement flooding accident remains ongoing at this time.
Liability In Queens Basement Apartment Accidents
Flooding from Hurricane Ida has killed at least 41 people in the northeast. Many of these deaths have taken place in New York City basement apartments. This has put a new spotlight on the number of basement apartments throughout the city. They have always been a part of the city’s vast housing stock. But many of these rentals are illegal and lack basic safety features such as:
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Adequate ventilation
- More than one exit
- Periodic unit inspections
Typically, landlords and building owners are not allowed to rent out basement units. According to the NYC Housing Preservation & Development, “Basements and cellars in residential properties of all sizes can NEVER be lawfully rented or occupied unless the conditions meet the minimum requirements for light, air, sanitation and egress, and have received approval by the Department of Buildings (DOB).” What follows are the conditions that must be met to rent the basement unit of one and two family homes:
- The basement has a minimum ceiling height of 7 feet.
- The basement is occupied by only members of the family that occupies the dwelling.
- The walls of the unit must be water-proofed.
All property owners in New York have a legal responsibility to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. If a property owner violates city Department of Building (DOB) guidelines or rents a property in a dangerous condition they could be liable in the event of an accident. There are a number of ways that a property could be in a dangerous condition. For example, if there is only one exit this could make it impossible to escape in the event of a fire or flood. Numerous steps should be taken after any apartment accident.
- Photos of the apartment should be taken
- Medical records should be preserved
- Department of Building records should be analyzed
The family of any victim that died in a basement apartment accident may be able to seek justice through a wrongful death claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and funeral costs. It is crucial that evidence is preserved after an accident. Property owners will typically fight hard to deny responsibility for any accident that takes place on their premises. A premises liability attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating A Queens Basement Apartment Accident
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Ang Lama, Mingma Sherpa and Lobsang. Any person that may have information about what happened should speak to investigators. This tragic accident puts into focus the need for safety regulations of all apartment units.
This incident also raises a number of serious safety questions. Was this unit compliant with DOB regulations? Could this tragedy have been prevented. Safety regulations are not a suggestion. They are designed for the protection of tenants and the general public. It is our sincere hope that city regulators will take action and come up with ideas to prevent similar tragedies.