By Murray Weiss, Jeff Mays, and Julie Shapiro
HARLEM — A Manhattan lawyer died Wednesday after she jumped from an eighth-floor apartment window cradling her baby in her arms, but the child survived, police sources and witnesses said.
Cynthia Wachenheim, 45, was holding her 10-month-old son Keston as she plunged from her window at The Sutton, 102 Bradhurst Ave., at West 147th Street, about 3:25 p.m., sources, witnesses and the FDNY said.
Wachenheim was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. The infant was rushed to Harlem Hospital in critical but stable condition, according to the NYPD.
Wachenheim left a note behind, sources said. One police source described it as "mostly rambling."
Police were searching for the Wachenheim's husband Wednesday evening but believe he left the apartment an hour before his wife jumped, sources said.
"I heard a small scream when she was in the air, and then I heard a nasty bang," said Steven Dominguez, 18, who lives nearby and was walking along Bradhurst Avenue. "It sounded like a big piece of wood hitting the ground."
Wachenheim was holding the baby as she fell but the child bounced onto the sidewalk on impact and immediately started wailing, Dominguez said.
"I wish I never saw this," he said. "I realized she was coming down but I just didn't believe it."
Dominguez's mother, Adelina Dominguez, 45, raced to the baby to try to help him.
"I saw the baby on the ground and I tried to pick it up, to comfort it, but the police told me not to," she said.
Wachenheim was an associate attorney for New York State Supreme Court and graduated from Columbia Law School. She lived with her husband, who works in sales, and their baby Keston, who recently turned 10 months old and started walking, said Christian Johnson, a neighbor.
"All of us in the court family are saddened by this tragic incident," said David Bookstaver, a courts spokesman. "Our thoughts are with her family during this difficult time."
Wachenheim started working for the courts in 1997 but was on leave, a source said.
Yaa Dwamney, 32, another neighbor, said Wachenheim and her husband appeared happy. Last summer, Dwamney said she frequently saw Wachenheim bring the baby to the pool at Jackie Robinson Park, across the street from the building.
"They looked like a really happy family," Dwamney said. "I never would have thought she would be dead."
With reporting by Victoria Bekiempis and Bryan Graham