Police continue to probe how 3-year-old fell to death in Tim Hortons grease trap

July 16, 2019 06:02 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)- Investigators are still trying to determine how a 3-year-old fell into a grease trap behind a Tim Horton's restaurant Monday morning and died.

Police say the boy stepped on a grease trap and the plastic lid gave way.


We wanted to know more about how these receptacles are used, maintained, and what the law requires.

We found quite a bit of information about size and depth, but nothing on the regulations that govern the safety and security of these grease interceptors.

"It’s actually a 1200 gallon tank that's in the ground and it's trapping the grease that's running from the building that grabs it before it runs into the sewer system to prevent the sewer system from building up with grease," said Derrick Slavas.

Slavas is an industrial supervisor for Roto Rooter. For 23 years, he's been cleaning out grease traps. He let us tag along as he cleaned out this one at a local soccer field.

He says it is typical of what he sees every day. It's about five feet deep, five feet wide and eight feet in length.

This trap has two openings. Both, he says, have heavy metal lids that require a special hook to get them open. He was shocked to learn what happened to the toddler. He says it's rare to see a plastic lid.

"It’s very shocking, you never hear of people falling in the ground and going into a grease trap. [And] in a commercial setting of all places. In my opinion, it's unacceptable," said Slavas.

He says most people wouldn't be able to point out the grease traps, but they are dangerous.

"It’s not like you're just going into water and you're going to pop back up...the grease is going to weigh you down...the odors and the sewage itself is going to suffocate you," he said.

Slavas says his company has safety rules when he's on a job site, but he is not aware of any laws governing them.

State Assemblyman Harry Bronson also told us he isn't aware of any state laws.

"I absolutely will look into it. It's not something I thought about previously. But this tragedy alerts us to this issue and we need to make sure these traps are safe," said Bronson.

We asked both the Monroe County Health Department and the New York State Health Department about regulations governing grease traps.

The state told us it's the county's responsibility. The county blamed it on the state... So it's not clear if any agency is inspecting these interceptors and checking to make sure they're safely maintained.


Lynette Adams

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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