NEW YORK, NY — The 4-year-old son of rock star Eric Clapton plunged 48 stories to his death yesterday when he fell from a picture window apparently left open by a housekeeper who had just washed it.

The boy wandered onto the ledge of a window that opened like a door. He fell 48 floors.

Police said the Health Department was investigating why the luxury duplex on the 52nd and 53rd floors at 117 E. 57th St. had no window guards, as required by law.

The boy, Conor Clapton, wandered into a bedroom on the second floor of the duplex at 11:10 a.m. and leaned over the ledge of a hinged 4-foot by 6-foot window that was opened inward, like a door, about 18 inches from the floor, police said. He fell to the roof of the five-story New York Geneological and Biographical Society, which faces on 58th Street.

The boy's mother, Italian actress Lori del Santo, 32, the housekeeper and the maid were in other rooms of the 4,000-square-foot apartment, police said.

Eric Clapton, who is separated from Conor's mother and who lives in Britain, was staying in a New York hotel and rushed to the scene when a friend told him the news, police said. He and del Santo were treated for shock at Lenox Hill Hospital and released.

"It seems as if it was a tragic accident," police Capt. Stephen Davis said. "To our knowledge, there were no actual eyewitnesses."

Del Santo and Silvio Sardi, an Italian millionaire, have lived with Conor in the condominium about a year, staff members said. In rental apartments, the landlord is responsible for window guards, but in condominiums the owner or tenant is responsible. Property records show the apartment sold for $1.9 million in 1985.

Clapton, 45, one of rock and roll's most influential guitarists, has played with the Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos and wrote hit songs including "Layla" and "Let it Rain."

He and his wife, Patti Boyd Harrison, were divorced after Conor was born in August, 1986. He never married del Santo, and British tabloids reported that they separated after she complained that he had numerous affairs.


Like that of many popular legends-in-their-own-time, Eric Clapton's artistic career, which spans almost three decades, is littered with death and tragedy. In 1976, singer Keith Relf, who played with Clapton in the Yardbirds, was electrocuted by his guitar in West London. Two members of Clapton's next band, Derek and the Dominos, also died before their time; guitarist Duane Allman was 24 when he was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971, and bassist Carl Radle died in 1980 of a chronic kidney ailment at the age of 37. Meanwhile, the Dominos' drummer Jim Gordon eventually had to be institutionalized.

Early in his career Clapton had to deal with his heroin addiction, which forced him out of the music scene in the early 70s and he continued to be troubled by drug abuse and alcoholism until 1987, when he dried himself out. In August 1990, fellow guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash minutes after the two performed together in Wisconsin. Clapton's bodyguard and booking agent were also killed in the crash. Clapton had decided to take a different helicopter.