Woman, 34, charged after pushing 3-year-old into Lake Michigan

A woman who used both hands to shove her 3-year-old nephew into Lake Michigan did nothing when he sunk to the bottom, where he remained for a half an hour Monday was denied bail, prosecutors said.

The boy, 3, remains hospitalized and was not expected to survive, prosecutors said.

Victoria Moreno, 34, of Des Plaines, is charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery of a child under the age of 13 causing permanent disability, according to police.

Moreno, who appeared Wednesday before Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz, who said what Moreno allegedly did was “intentionally brutal and heinous and an act indicative of wanted cruelty,’’ denied bail during a hearing that was live streamed on YouTube.

Moreno let him “suffer and struggle and provided no assistance whatsoever,” Ortiz said after denying bail.

The entire event was captured on video surveillance.

Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said the tragedy began when Moreno “stole” the keys to a family truck she wasn’t authorized to drive and took the boy from his Des Plaines home when other relatives were not looking on Monday.

She drove the boy to the Shedd Aquarium but realized she had only cash, went to Navy Pier.

Moreno took him to McDonald’s, and he bought him a Happy Meal and she had a frappe. As they walked from a parking garage, the boy was nearly hit by a car but continued to on a sidewalk close to the water’s edge, Scaduto said.

At one point, the boy got on “all fours” and crawled under a chain used prevent pedestrians to fall into the water, and Moreno, who began looking around as if to see if anyone was watching, pulled him by his feet, back to safety, as several people watched, Scaduto said.

After the barrier, there is a platform to where the water is, a 6 and a half foot drop.

Moreno looked around and waited for people to leave and then “when no one was present,” she allowed him to crawl back under the chain “doing nothing,” Scaduto said.

Moreno climbed over the chain partition, crouching behind the 3-year-old. She then “straddled him and with both hands pushed him off the platform and into Lake Michigan,” Scaduto said.

She then sat down and started into the water, “where the child was drowning,” Scaduto said.

Then as witnesses heard hit “hitting the water,’’ someone called 911 and by the time fire department got there, he was on the bottom of the lake for more than 30 minutes, Scaduto and Ortiz said.

He was pulled from the water in the 700 block of East Grand Avenue just before 1:30 p.m. by the Chicago Fire Department and taken to Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in critical condition.

Bystanders asked what happened and who is he and she didn’t give any information, Scaduto said, adding she told them she didn’t know the boy.

Someone threw in a life saver in case he was able to make it up to the surface but by that point it was too late, Scaduto said.

She told police she didn’t know anything and just saw him “trip” and fall into the water.

The child suffered “significant life threatening injuries” said Ortiz. Scaduto said he was not expected to survive. He suffered a swollen brain, bleeding in his lungs, multiple seizures and has multiple events of cardiac arrest, Scaduto said. He is on a ventilate and on cardiac support.

Scaduto added the case was extra alarming because Moreno last week took other family members who are children to Navy Pier.One of the oldest children with her that day, 11, reached out to family and gave them a “pin marker” so they could be located.

“Family members became concerned immediately,” Scaduto said.

An attorney for Moreno said she suffers from mental issues for which she takes medicine. This is her first arrest, and she has no background, the attorney said.

“This is a very upsetting and grave issue,” the attorney said, and added that is was an “anomaly” for Moreno to do something like this. She is married, graduated from Maine West High School, the attorney said.

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“The totality is this case is a tragedy for this family in every sense,” Scaduto said.

The boy’s guardian is Maria Mungia, 29, according to police. A Daily Herald story from June 2021 about a Des Plaines man suffering from congestive heart failure references the man’s wife also as Maria Mungia, and their at the time 2-year-old son, Josiah Brown.

Dantrell Brown, the boy’s father, is currently hospitalized after suffering a seizure and is in need of a heart transplant, according to a GoFundMe campaign he organized to cover medical bills.

“Anything helps and this is a long recovery as I hope to get back home to my son and wife soon,” the fundraiser description reads.

No additional information was immediately available from police.

Chicago Tribune’s Adriana Perez contributed.

Check back for updates.

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