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Alabama officials investigate fallen airport sign that killed boy

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An American Airlines counter stands empty at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York
An American Airlines counter stands empty at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York

By Verna Gates

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - Alabama authorities are investigating what caused an airport sign in a recently renovated space to fall and kill a 10-year old boy and leave his mother in serious condition.

Heather Bresette of Overland Park, Kansas, and several of her children were pinned under a flight display sign weighing 300 to 400 pounds (140 to 180 kg) that fell inside the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport as they traveled home on Friday from a spring break vacation in Florida.

Luke Bresette, 10, was killed. His brother Sam, 8, was in good condition on Monday at the Children's of Alabama hospital, and 5-year-old brother Tyler had been released, said hospital spokeswoman Kathy Bowers.

Heather Bresette suffered a crushed pelvis and two broken ankles, said the family's priest, Father Don Farnan of St. Thomas More parish in Kansas City, Missouri.

"It is horrible. They are trying to pick up the pieces and go on with life. Ryan has four other children to take care of," Farnan said of Ryan Bresette, Luke's father.

Airport officials said they would not speculate on the cause of the incident, which remained under investigation.

The probe will include talks with contractors and subcontractors who recently updated the part of the airport where the sign was hung, airport officials said in a statement. The renovated area opened on March 13, said spokeswoman Toni Bast.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell called for a swift review of the "horrible accident."

"No parent should have to endure the death of their child," he said. "I have met with the father, and he is heartbroken and wants and deserves answers. I want a full report on my desk as quickly as possible."

Ryan Bresette remembered his son on Facebook over the weekend, asking friends and family to wear their favorite sports jerseys to church in honor of his sports-loving child.

"He was spunky and energetic and very bright. Ornery on occasions," Farnan said on Monday. "He had one of those faces, that when in trouble, you had a tough time holding him to it once he gave you that smile."

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Steve Orlofsky and Bernard Orr)

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