Boy, 17, dies in 46-story fall down trash chute

February 21, 2012 3:04:21 PM PST
A teenager fell to his death in a Gold Coast high-rise Monday night. Police say the teen was found at the bottom of the building's trash chute.

Investigators say 17-year-old Charles Manley, who had Down syndrome and reportedly had autism, fell down the trash chute from the 46th floor around 11 p.m. inside the high-rise where he lived near the corner of Astor and North. Now investigators are trying to figure out exactly how he got into the chute.

Police said Tuesday that a bell and an alarm system above the family's apartment door started ringing when Manley got out of the apartment. His parents woke up and saw the boy was gone. They called 911 and, eventually, they and emergency responders discovered Manley in the trash compactor on the ground level.

The medical examiner concluded Tuesday afternoon that Manley died of multiple injuries from the accidental fall.

The Manley family is well known to the Special Olympics Organization. John Manley, Charles' father, was a board member of Special Olympics International.

Dave Breen, president and CEO of Special Olympics Illinois, said Tuesday: "Our hearts go out to the Manley family as they deal with Charlie's tragic passing. They will be in the thoughts and prayers of the Special Olympics family around the world."

The news of Manley's death spread fast and saddened neighbors.

"I'm really sorry that this happened to that poor soul," said neighbor Barbara Georgans.

"It's completely puzzling," said Christine Thiesen. "Can't imagine how that even happened, it's absolutely devastating, it's terrible, terrible."

Residents say the chutes are 4 feet off the ground and about 1 1/2-feet square with a door covering the opening. They say that Manley was well known around the building.

"He's always out talking to everybody in the building," said resident Carolyn Licata.