Residents in Harlem were amazed that a 10-month baby survived an 8-story fall yesterday. His mother strapped him to her chest and then leapt to her death, intending to take her child with her. Miraculously, the baby survived.
Cynthia Wachenheim, 44, left a 7-page suicide note for her husband, Hal Bacharach, 48, before jumping. In the note, she detailed her plan to die and kill baby Keston, whom she believed had a physical handicap.
"The note said she was not happy and she talked about what she planned to do. I love you. I'm making you suffer. You're going to think I'm evil. She thinks she's a failing mother. On the last page, she refers to postpartum depression. She was supposed to see a therapist, but she blew him off," a source told The New York Daily News.
A source with the police department confirmed that there were antidepressants found in the apartment and that they were prescribed to Wachenheim. Post-partum depression could have led to the mistaken belief that Keston had a handicap, though doctors confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the child before his morther's untimely death.
He was taken to Harlem Hospital after the fall, given a CT scan, and listed in stable condition. Apparently the way that Wachenheim landed prevented him from being seriously hurt or killed; he simply bounced off her chest and rolled away.
"I heard a small scream when she was in the air," witness Steven Dominguez told the NY Daily News. "I noticed something falling, but I didn't want to believe it was a person. It was a loud bang. It sounded like a big piece of wood hitting the floor. When I got closer, I saw the baby crying."
Thankfully, police were near the scene and happened to witness the fall; they were able to quickly respond to the scene and get help for baby Keston.
Friends remember Wachenheim as "wonderful" and "devoted to the court" she worked for.
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident," David Bookstaver, spokesman for the city's Office of Court Administration said. "Our thoughts are with her family."
Watch residents' reaction to the news here: