The scene: Methuen police block off the scene of a fatal accident at Tenney Grammar School yesterday afternoon. Timothy DiLeo, 11, was killed, and his brother Andrew, 8, was seriously injured when a gate collapsed on top of them while they were playing outside the school.

METHUEN, Mass. — An 11-year-old boy was killed and his 8-year-old brother seriously injured when a steel gate came crashing down on top of them while they played on the grounds of Tenney Grammar School yesterday.

It took five police officers and several firefighters to lift the large steel gate off Timothy DiLeo and his little brother Andrew, said police Chief Joseph Solomon. Timothy was declared dead at the scene. Andrew was in fair condition at Boston’s Children’s Hospital last night.

“The family is in shock right now,” said the boys’ aunt, who declined to give her name.

The aunt came to the school on Pleasant Street last night to get information from police about the accident to relay to the family in Boston.

“They are all such sweet kids. It makes me sick to my stomach,” she said.

The boys were playing on school grounds with their older brother Steven, 13, and friend Brandon LaPorte, 13, around 3:30 p.m. yesterday when the gate they were climbing collapsed. LaPorte used his cell phone to call 911 while Steven DiLeo ran home for help, police said. All four boys were students at Tenney School last year.

“It appears it’s just an accident,” Solomon said.

The boys’ father, Steven DiLeo, and off-duty police Officer Eric DeLeon, a family friend, were first at the scene.

Police and city officials would not say how the gate collapsed. The steel gate is one of two used to close off the Dumpster area along the side of the school. Often, the gates are left open, officials said.

“An investigation is ongoing. We’ve taken the gate as evidence,” Solomon said.

LaPorte, who suffered a minor leg injury, was interviewed at the police station, his father said last night.

“My son could have been the one. I just feel really bad for the family,” said Lee LaPorte. “It’s tough. He lost a friend. They’re kids that were just playing.”

Brandon LaPorte, who will be a freshman at Methuen High School, only recently became friends with the DiLeo brothers. The boys would come to LaPorte’s home and trade Pokemon cards on the front steps, Lee LaPorte said. They were trading cards while at Tenney School yesterday, where they often go to play.

Brandon told his father that one of the boys’ bikes helped save Andrew from being killed under the weight of the steel gate. “He said the bike saved that kid,” Lee LaPorte said. “(Andrew) was alert, yelling, conscious.”

Tenney School Principal Jim Giuca visited with the DiLeo family at the hospital yesterday and said the mood was “very solemn.”

“They are a wonderful family. A tragedy like this hurts everybody,” Giuca said.

Superintendent Dr. Jeanne Whitten said school will open as scheduled tomorrow for students. Counselors will be made available to staff, children and parents throughout the week, she said. Teachers and staff report back to school today and she expects to hold a meeting with them this morning to discuss the accident.

“It’s a tragic situation. Our thoughts are with the family,” Whitten said. “Anytime you lose a child it’s tragic. This isn’t supposed to happen. Children shouldn’t die. We’ll maintain a sense of normalcy and support those who need it. We’ll put a plan in place. “

She also said the School Department will conduct a review of its facilities, paying particular attention to all outbuildings and fencing.

Soon after the accident, a crowd of onlookers gathered on Pleasant Street and traffic slowed to look at the school. Dozens of marked and unmarked police cars from the Methuen Police Department and state police filled the parking lot for several hours. Officials, including the mayor, School Committee members, investigators from the district attorney’s office, and other school administrators were on the scene most of the afternoon.

“It’s a terrible way to start a school year,” Mayor William Manzi said. “It’s obviously a very distraught time for that family. It’s a terrible day. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family.”

Lee LaPorte said he felt comfortable letting his son play at Tenney School.

“I’m happy with that school,” LaPorte said. “If I had those kinds of concerns, I wouldn’t let my kids up there. I don’t know what happened today. I have confidence in the school system at the Tenney.”

The DiLeos’ home, with a basketball hoop in the driveway and a swing set and toys in the backyard, was dark last night. A neighbor was taking care of the family’s dog. Parents Steven and Susan DiLeo were at the hospital, neighbors said. Along with the three sons, the DiLeos’ also have a daughter.

“They are a great family,” said Paul Doherty, who was watching the DiLeos’ dog while the family was at the hospital yesterday. “I can’t imagine what they are going through. The brothers play together all the time, I see them in the backyard. They are very close.”

Neighbor Cindy Sanderson said during the school year Susan DiLeo walks her children to the Tenney School every day.

“She’s very friendly, nice. They are really the nice kind of family that all families should be,” Sanderson said. “They’re a very loving, tight family.”

Terrence Scannell, who lives across the street from the school, said children play at the school all summer long and there have never been problems.

“It’s sad and shocking,” said Scannell, whose wife, Judy, was an assistant principal at Tenney and now works at Timony School. “I’m sure it’s going to be shocking for the school.”

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