A Mother’s Diary of Intimate Moments Becomes a Public Memorial

The busy young lives of Leo and Lucia Krim, as documented by their mother, Marina, on her dotingly detailed blog, seemed lifted from someone’s imagined idyllic New York childhood. Here was a photograph of Leo, 2, standing in his sneakers on a park bench on the High Line. Here was one of Lucia, 6, conked out on the couch, her eyes composedly closed and her small hands pressed against her lips.

But after the events of Thursday afternoon when Ms. Krim returned to her apartment on the Upper West Side and found her children dead in a bathtub, their nanny unconscious on the bathroom floor and holding a bloody knife, the online diary, in which she had been chronicling her family’s life, turned into something different, something darker.

What had once been a quiet celebration of ordinary moments and a parent’s glimpsed details had now become a kind of public memorial, a document containing proof of an almost unimaginable loss.

“Leo speaks in the most adorable way possible,” Ms. Krim wrote on Thursday at 2:33 p.m., only hours before she came back to her building on West 75th Street and made her staggering discovery. “Firstly, he speaks super clearly, so you can understand every word he is saying. And he does things like, “(I) want a fresh bagel” and “Dito (what he calls himself) wants cold milk.”

To read these words and to see the images with them is to feel oneself intruding on another family’s most intimate personal moments — weekend field trips, bedroom playtime, snack hour at a hot-dog stand — and, of course, to experience the awkward mix of shame and fascination that such intrusion brings. The blog, littlemisslucia.livejournal.com, was taken down on Thursday night, in part, one imagines, for privacy reasons, but perhaps as well because it was quickly overwhelmed by hundreds of messages from strangers expressing their condolences and grief to Ms. Krim; her husband, Kevin; and their third child, Nessie.

“Thoughts and Prayers to your family and to the two sweet angels in heaven…” someone wrote.

“It’s with deep sadness that I discover this horrific news,” wrote someone else. “May you receive all the support from your family and friends to cope with this uncopable loss.”

Ms. Krim’s blog is not the first to have uncomfortably emerged into the public eye after — or rather, because of — a public tragedy. Earlier this year, a blog by Karilyn Bales, the wife of Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers while serving with the Army, was discovered in the midst of her husband’s case. In the blog, simply titled, “The Bales Family,” Ms. Bales described the private joys and disappointments of her family life: the call she got from her husband while she was giving birth to their first daughter; Sgt. Bales’ professional frustration at not getting promoted to sergeant first class.

Elisa Camahort Page, the co-founder of Blogher, a network for women bloggers, said that Ms. Krim would most likely find it difficult to return to her blog at first, but that the journal may eventually comfort her by offering what she called “a Document of Before.”

“Everything is going to be measured as either before or after,” Ms. Camahort Page said. “I can’t imagine when it won’t be incredibly painful to look at, but hopefully it will possible to reach a place of being thankful that there’s a record with pictures and stories and memories.”

The pictures and stories on Ms. Krim’s blog now near bear the weight of a new and terrible meaning.

Above a photo of Lucia punching numbers into the keyboard of a pay phone on the street, Ms. Krim wrote: “…every phone booth on Broadway…She stopped to make a call. Fun times!!”

Above another of her children and her husband at a farm upstate: “”We went out to Ghent a few weeks ago, to pick some eggs…Mmmmmmmmmmm!”

She even wrote about her nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, 50, who remained in the hospital on Friday with an apparently self-inflicted slash wound to her throat, as an investigation slowly moved forward.

“We spent the past 9 days in the Dominican Republic,” Ms. Krim wrote. “We spent half the time at our nanny, Josie’s sisters home in Santiago. We met Josie’s amazing familia!!! And the Dominican Republic is a wonderful country!! More pics to come!!”

Then there was this about her son:
“One of the best parts of my day is after I drop both girls off at school and have 3 precious hours with little Lito all to myself. Ok, I’m near getting cheesy I adore this boy so much!!”

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Transit Closings Possible as Hurricane Sandy Approaches

Updated, 3:07 p.m. | The possibility of at least a modified transit shutdown in New York next week in the face of Hurricane Sandy loomed large on Friday, with winds expected to be above the range that would prompt the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to halt service.

The National Weather Service is predicting sustained winds of 40 to 50 miles an hour starting late Monday with gusts possibly in the 70s. The transportation authority’s hurricane plan “calls for an orderly shutdown of service before the arrival of sustained winds of 39 mph or higher.”

The authority has not yet decided if it will suspend some or all service, but said that “ample notice” would be provided once a decision was reached.

“Our first priority is always safety, and the M.T.A. is taking no chances with the safety of our customers, our employees and our equipment,” said the agency’s chairman, Joseph J. Lhota. “We are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. Whatever happens, we’ll be ready.”

The authority undertook an unprecedented shutdown of the subway system in August 2011, in advance of Tropical Storm Irene.

The present storm’s path across the Northeast is far from certain, but wherever the storm makes landfall, the weather service said, the New York metro area will very likely see at least 4 inches of rain and tropical storm-force winds, meaning above 39 miles an hour.

The storm is currently predicted to make landfall somewhere around Delaware, but if it turns north, the New York area could see 10 inches of rain, weather service meteorologists said on a call to reporters. A northward turn could also mean heavy river flooding instead of the flash floods that are currently expected.

Forecasters are expecting Hurricane Sandy’s path of damage to be much wider than Irene’s was last year. And wherever the storm ends up meeting the coast, the tidal surges will be bigger than Irene’s.

“Somebody is going to get a significant surge event out of this system, but it’s just too soon to say who that’s going to be,” said James Franklin, the branch chief for the National Hurricane Center. “We’ll be seeing numbers higher than Irene for somebody.”

Forecasters stressed that this far in advance, the error range for tracking the storm is about 200 miles. In the New York region, Mr. Franklin said, “This far out all I can tell you is that tropical storm force winds can be expected.”

In New York, officials were busy making preparations.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg urged New Yorkers to stay out of city parks starting on Sunday, and to stock up on basic supplies. “This is a large, unpredictable storm, so be prepared for possible outages,” he said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

The Buildings Department ordered all outdoor work at construction sites to halt at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The transportation authority has already cancelled most of its scheduled weekend construction projects except for on the 7 and J lines, where the work will be done on Saturday only.

The authority said an incident command center would be activated at 8 a.m. on Sunday. The center will include “customer advocates” — a position created after a review of the agency’s operations during Tropical Storm Irene — who will “ensure that all decisions made during the event will reflect a focus on customers,” according to the authority.

Contingency plans include the removal of trains from flood-prone outdoor yards and the placing of sandbags and tarps over subway grates vulnerable to flooding. In recent years, the authority said, many station entrances and grates in low-lying areas have been modified to be raised above street level.

On the Long Island Rail Road, extra crews could be dispatched to remove crossing gates before the storm if necessary, in a bid to protect the gates from high winds and help facilitate a quicker recovery after the storm. Service must be suspended if the gates are removed.

Teams were also inspecting the authority’s bridges and tunnels, clearing them of debris. If sustained winds reach 50 miles per hour or more, in wet or dry conditions, the authority said that certain vehicles would be barred from using its crossings, including motorcycles, tractor trailers, trucks with open backs, and vehicles carrying plate glass.

If the winds exceed 60 miles per hour, the authority said it could close one or more bridges to all traffic.


Track Sandy’s path as it moves up the coast and stay tuned to City Room for ongoing coverage. For real-time storm updates, follow @NYTMetro, @AndyLocal and @MichaelPaulson on Twitter.

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Memories of Talent Lost

Dear Diary:

An elderly homeless woman on the B train on an October night, cane in one hand, change cup in the other, told us her story as she held herself up against one of the seats near the door.

She was once a pianist, a promising Juilliard student at the time Itzhak Perlman was there in the 1950s. She fondly remembered passing Richard Rodgers in the hallways. As she spoke, it was clear she was mentally and physically exhausted, and she admitted that she wasn’t sure how much life she still had in her. Although she didn’t elaborate on what had gone wrong, something obviously had.

“If you don’t use your talents, you lose them,” she lamented, more to herself than to the few subway riders who took notice.

Her regret at having squandered her abilities struck me so poignantly and so deeply that I felt compelled to say something. As I slipped some money into her cup her weary eyes raised and brightened as if I had just brought her roses at Carnegie Hall. She took my hand, held it tightly for a moment, and genuinely thanked me.

“Be well. Be safe,” I said, and ascended from the Rockefeller Center station a little more grateful, a little more motivated, and convinced more than ever that every life offers a lesson in living.


Read all recent entries and our updated submissions guidelines. Reach us via e-mail: [email protected] or telephone: (212) 556-1333. Follow @NYTMetro on Twitter using the hashtag #MetDiary.

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Settlement in Suit Over Hot Climbing Domes at Brooklyn Park

Updated, 11:35 p.m. | A family who said their young daughter was burned on an overheated steel climbing dome at Brooklyn Bridge Park will receive a $17,500 settlement.

The girl, Paula Spolar, who was 1 at the time of the injury, sustained second-degree burns on her hands, her family’s lawyer said. The state-controlled entity that ran the park at the time of the incident and the park’s designer are splitting the cost of the settlement, according to court papers.

The three silvery domes, made by a German firm that says it produces “extraordinary stylish play equipment,” drew reports from horrified parents within days of their installation at the Pier 1 play area in March 2010 that when the sun shone on the metal, it heated to skin-scalding temperatures.

At 12:30 p.m. on June 16, 2010, according to a notice of claim filed by the family, Paula was playing at the park’s playground when she “sustained severe burns as a result of the scorching hot stainless steel metal climbing domes existing in full attraction thereon.”

The next day, officials at the park, a sparkling $350 million project sprawled along 85 waterfront acres on the East River, fenced off the domes. A week later, the domes were removed. They were eventually replaced with a little red house and a fairy castle.

The Spolar family originally sued the city, then added the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, a state-controlled entity that ran the park in 2010, and the development corporation in turn claimed that the park’s designer, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, had liability, said the family’s lawyer, Gary R. Weinberg. The development corporation’s and Van Valkenburgh’s insurance companies covered the settlement, the city Law Department said. The settlement was reported Thursday in The New York Post.

The suit initially sought $1 million and claimed that the burns were permanent, but time has since healed them, Mr. Weinberg said, and the Spolar family simply wanted to resolve the matter quickly.

“Let’s just hope this leads to safer playgrounds for our children,” he said.


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 26, 2012

An earlier version of this post misstated the name of one of the parties that was sued and paid the settlement. It was the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, a state-controlled entity that ran the park in 2010, not the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, a city-controlled nonprofit that currently runs the park.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 25, 2012

Because of incorrect information provided by the family’s lawyer, an earlier version of this post misstated which parties were paying the cost of the settlement. The park’s designer and the park’s operator are splitting the cost; the park’s operator is not paying the entire amount.

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Settlement in Burn Suit Over Hot Climbing Domes at Brooklyn Park

Updated, 5:03 p.m. | A family who said their young daughter was burned on an overheated steel climbing dome at Brooklyn Bridge Park will receive a $17,500 settlement.

The girl, Paula Spolar, who was 1 at the time of the injury, sustained second-degree burns on her hands, her family’s lawyer said. The nonprofit group that runs the park and the park’s designer are splitting the cost of the settlement, according to court papers.

The three silvery domes, made by a German firm that says it produces “extraordinary stylish play equipment,” drew reports from horrified parents within days of their installation at the Pier 1 play area in March 2010 that when the sun shone on the metal, it heated to skin-scalding temperatures.

At 12:30 p.m. on June 16, 2010, according to a notice of claim filed by the family, Paula was playing at the park’s playground when she “sustained severe burns as a result of the scorching hot stainless steel metal climbing domes existing in full attraction thereon.”

The next day, officials at the park, a sparkling $350 million project sprawled along 85 waterfront acres on the East River, fenced off the domes. A week later, the domes were removed. They were eventually replaced with a little red house and a fairy castle.

The Spolar family originally sued the city, then added the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which runs the park, and the park corporation in turn claimed that the park’s designer, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, had liability, said the family’s lawyer, Gary R. Weinberg. The park corporation’s and Van Valkenburgh’s insurance companies covered the settlement, the city Law Department said. The settlement was reported Thursday in The New York Post.

The suit initially sought $1 million and claimed that the burns were permanent, but time has since healed them, Mr. Weinberg said, and the Spolar family simply wanted to resolve the matter quickly.

“Let’s just hope this leads to safer playgrounds for our children,” he said.


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 25, 2012

Because of incorrect information provided by the family’s lawyer, an earlier version of this post misstated which parties were paying the cost of the settlement. The park’s designer and the park’s operator are splitting the cost; the park’s operator is not paying the entire amount.

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