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City Officials Release Statement After Child Falls Into Open Stormwater Inlet
Updated October 23, 2017 6:46 AM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - Following a thorough investigation, City of Bloomington Utilities Director Vic Kelson has issued a report detailing the actions that lead to a 7-year-old boy falling into an open stormwater inlet on October 9.

The incident took place in the 2600 block of South Madison Street near the B-Line Trail. Fortunately, the child was not seriously injured in the incident.

The stormwater inlet was constructed by an outside contractor in 2014 and did not pass City construction standards upon completion. Despite failing a post-construction inspection, the deficiencies were not addressed, allowing the inlet cover eventually to be displaced either by vandalism or vehicle traffic.

The potentially dangerous open stormwater inlet was first reported by an area resident via the City's uReport online reporting system on the evening of Sunday, October 8, and City offices were closed on Monday, October 9. The uReport system is not intended for reporting imminent threats to public safety that require immediate attention. Reporters were only offered the option of contacting the 911 emergency system in a situation such as this, but an additional message urging residents to call City Control at 812-339-1444 if a potentially dangerous situation is encountered has been added to the uReport system. .

Kelson said, "The deficiencies have been repaired and we are grateful that the child involved in the accident wasn't seriously injured. We also want to thank the resident who brought this to our attention. The safety and well being of CBU customers, residents and visitors is our top priority."

Investigation​ ​Report​ ​Regarding​ ​Open​ ​Stormwater​ ​Inlet - 2600​ ​block​ ​of​ ​South​ ​Madison​ ​St.

Introduction

At 9:05 p.m. on October 9, 2017 City of Bloomington Dispatch received a report that a 7-year old boy fell into an open stormwater inlet near the 2600 block of S. Madison St. in Bloomington.

Bloomington Fire Department (BFD) was called to the scene, but the father indicated that he had already gotten the child out of the structure; BFD administered first aid. When Indiana University Health Emergency Medical Services arrived on the scene patient care was transferred to them. The metal casing that should have been covering the stormwater inlet was put back in place by BFD before they left the scene.

The City Legal Department (Legal) received an email from the boy's father at 2:42 a.m. on Tuesday October 10.

The structure was exposed because a metal casting that overlies the inlet had been moved away from the opening. While the specific cause of the removal of the casting cannot be positively identified, it is clear that the original installation of the casting was inconsistent with the City's design standards. The opening at the inlet was not properly constructed; there was no recessed groove that would allow the casting to lie at the surrounding ground level. It is believed that the casting was removed either by vehicles driving over it, or by unknown persons lifting or dragging it away from the opening. It is not possible to know exactly how it was removed.

Gary Connor, City Risk Manager, visited the scene on the morning of Tuesday October 10. At the time, workers from City of Bloomington Utilities (CBU) Transmission and Distribution Division (T&D) were on the scene making modifications to the inlet structure to prevent the casting from being easily moved again in the future. T&D cut a recess into the opening, replaced the casting, and grouted the casting into place.

Gary Connor also visited CBU to inquire whether the matter had been previously reported to CBU. He found that a uReport had been filed Sunday evening on October 8, the night before the alleged incident. The offices of the City of Bloomington and the CBU were closed on October 9. Connor also reached out to the child's father, and up to the present time has received no response.

Investigation

Phil Peden of CBU Engineering is the City's stormwater engineer. Peden reported that the storm pipe and associated appurtenances were installed as part of the South Rogers St. project, several years ago. That project was carried out at the time by the Public Works Department, by a contractor that worked under the guidance of City employees Justin Wycoff and Adrian Reed. Peden reported that at the time the project was completed in April 2014, Mr. Wycoff had left the City and Mr. Reed was managing the project. A final walk-through was held for the purpose of

identifying deficiencies in the project construction, and a "punch list" of items to be corrected was generated by Public Works and the contractor. The improperly installed casting at 2600 South Madison St. was not included in that punch list. CBU was not invited to that walk-through, but Peden and CBU staff carried out their own walk-through and created a punch list. The casting at 2600 South Madison was found during that inspection, and is included as item #30 on
the punch list of April 2, submitted to Public Works by Peden. I've included a set of email messages from Phil Peden, who attempted to convince the project managers and contractor to correct all the items that had been addressed, including the casting in question. The matter was never addressed.

I've included Peden's email messages related to this matter for your review. The message of April 7, 2014 entitled "Rogers Street Walk Thru" includes the punch list that was developed by CBU. It is noted that so far as we know, at completion, the project did not pass CBU's inspection and was not placed on CBU's books.

On Friday October 13, 2017 Phil Peden and CBU inspectors visited the South Rogers St. project area and re-inspected the facilities there. They found deficiencies, but none of them were considered to be a threat to public safety. CBU T&D corrected all the remaining deficiencies during the week of October 16, 2017.

Conclusions and Recommendations

I have reached the following conclusions:
1. The project was not properly completed in 2014, and the unsecured storm inlet casting was a problem waiting to happen. This item should have been corrected.
2. It is not clear why the items identified by CBU were not addressed. It is also not clear in 2014 if any specific person decided to drop the matter, or if it simply "fell through the cracks" at the time.
3. City personnel should inform their superiors of issues that might threaten public safety without any fear of reprisal.
4. CBU staff, especially T&D, responded in a timely fashion once the issue was known and implemented a permanent solution.
5. The uReport system does not offer the same kind of quick response as calling CBU Control. If the reporting neighbor had phoned Control, T&D staff would have replaced the casting on Sunday night shortly after the situation was reported.

I offer the following recommendations:

1. CBU Engineering, Public Works, and the engineers in Planning and Transportation should redouble their efforts to communicate fully and freely about projects, and rapidly address any issues related to public safety and the environment.
2. The uReport system should offer a way for members of the public a way to indicate that a reported item is a potential safety hazard, and offer the phone number for Control, 812-339-1444.
3. CBU and COB should review other public communications mechanisms to ensure that emergency or unsafe conditions are rapidly reported to the proper staff. CBU Control is trained to forward communications to the proper parties in a timely manner. Some kind of referral via Control may be an effective way to do so.

Vic Kelson
Director, City of Bloomington Utilities



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