11-month-old Binyomin Kuravsky was killed by a faulty radiator — and now his parents demand accountability from the city


(New York Jewish Week) — Following the death of their 11-month-old son in January due to a faulty radiator, a Jewish couple in Midwood is urging legislation to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Alex and Bessie Kuravsky, the parents of Binyomin Zachariah, were joined by around a dozen family, friends and supporters Wednesday afternoon on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall at a rally demanding that the city require landlords to regularly inspect radiators, which heat around 80% of the city’s buildings.

Around 6 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 19, the Kuravskys found their son unconscious in a room full of steam and suffering from severe burns. He was rushed to Maimonides Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The cause of death was steam inhalation and thermal burns, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said. An investigation from the Department of Buildings found that the malfunction was due to a faulty connection between the room’s radiator and its valve.

“You couldn’t see anything. I had no idea what it was, we thought it was a fire,” Alex Kuravsky told CBS News. “We couldn’t fathom the idea of a steam radiator doing anything to our apartment.”

The Department of Buildings issued six violations to landlord Ruvin Itskovich, which carry a penalty of $62,500 if upheld, and set a hearing for March 27.

The Kuravskys told CBS they hope to be there. But they are also now calling on the city to require annual inspections of radiators. Rallygoers on Wednesday held signs reading, “Department of Buildings we demand inspection enforcement,” and “Mayor Adams, keep our families safe. It’s your job.”

“Our baby boy’s life was taken because these buildings were not maintained properly, because these buildings were not carefully inspected, because our building got neglected,” Bessie Kuravsky told News12, a Brooklyn station.

The family has the support of New York City Councilwoman Farah Louis, who represents Midwood, and she says she is now drafting legislation that would require radiators to be maintained and inspected.

“Ultimately, we want to require every building to get inspected for radiators,” Louis told CBS. “The bill that we put in place was to make sure if it’s a unit, definitely children under five, it should definitely be inspected.”

While boilers are required to be inspected annually, and landlords are charged with maintaining their properties in working order, there is no law that requires the same of radiators.

“The Department of Buildings strongly urges landlords to invest in the proper upkeep of their properties to avoid a catastrophic incident like the tragic death earlier this year in Midwood,” the Department of Buildings said in a statement to CBS.

Radiator accidents have caused deaths in the city before. In 2016, two sisters, 1-year-old Scylee and 2-year-old Ibanez Ambrose, died in a similar incident while living in a city-funded apartment for the homeless in the Bronx.

“We do not want anybody else to suffer,” Bessie Kuravsky told CBS. “Just because we lived in a rent-controlled apartment building that had cheaper rent it doesn’t mean that his life and lives of people who live in rent-controlled buildings should be considered cheap.”

The Department of Buildings issued a vacate order for the apartment, and friends have organized a GoFundMe to support relocation, childcare and counseling costs for the Kuravskys and their newborn twins. The GoFundMe has raised more than $72,000.

“This is an issue of life or death,” Alex Kuravsky told CBS. “And now that the third baby has died, what are we doing about it?”