danger IN THE YARDS OF AMERICA*
Before you blow this off, look at the dates and places
of these tragedies...it's not in the wilderness 200 years
ago, it is happening today in major
metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and New York City.
Some of them are cases where
the cesspools (illegal in most states for decades) got old and
caved-in. And you are going to see this happening more and more
because they were made out of cinder blocks. Guess what happens
to a cinder block after 30, 40, 50+ years in a wet, caustic
environment? It starts to crumble. The truth is there are
millions of these old cesspools around the country and no one
bothered to keep track of where they are.
And don't think for a minute
just because you have city sewer today you are safe...your home
could still have an old cesspool in the yard and you don't even
know it. In the 1940's the bulk of the population lived in the
cities because you needed to be close to work (contrary to
popular opinion not every American was a farmer). But by the
1950's transportation improved and people began moving out to
the suburbs in record numbers. And these communities sprung up
so fast that sewage treatment facilities could not keep pace.
Rather than wait the 5 to 7
years it would take to build treatment plants the builders
simply dug these 10 to 30 foot deep cesspools in the yards.
Quick, simple and cheap. And when those plants were finally
built (usually 10 to 20 years late) the building codes stated
that the cesspool was to be filled in, but to be blunt, no one
ever enforced it.
What this means is, if your
house was built in 1963 but the sewer lines didn't come through
until 1975...you could have a cesspool somewhere on your
property. If you fall-in and you survive the fall, you may get
out alive. But if it is still being used the chances of coming
out alive are slim to none because the methane gas causes you to
pass out in a matter of minutes, then you drown.
Many of these neighborhoods are still waiting for that big
pipe! At one time almost all of Long Island New York was
cesspools. Today a large portion of Long Island are still on
cesspools. And many of those homes that are now on city sewer
were not filled in as they should have been. The CBS Early Show
and Evening News did a news story on October 26th 2005 shot on
Long Island and in New Jersey that points out this
However you will also see a
lot of "accidents" that were caused by human error. A
contractor finishes working on a system and doesn't bother to
cover it up, or the top of the tank was not secured allowing
children (with their natural curiosity) look into the tank. Or
a homeowner decides to try and work on the system himself (ask
the guy from Iowa how he spent Christmas Eve...funny story but
could have been deadly).
There are inexpensive ways you
can protect yourself...but you are going to have to read through
a few of these news stories to get to the solutions. Why the
drama? Because this is no joke. Read on to see what I am
talking about. The next news story could be about you, your
family or your neighbors.
*In the 1990's many states began
to realize septic systems needed to be maintained but people
were not doing it, so they began requiring easy access to the
tanks. What this meant is they used a riser to bring the
access port up to the surface and a cover placed over it.
At first they were made out of concrete but there were a few
problems: First they were ugly. Second the concrete would
breakdown from the sewer gas. Third, they were heavy and
hard to work with. So manufacturers began coming out with
plastic risers and covers...but now we are seeing problems with
The plastic can get easily
damaged when hit with a lawn mower, cracked in the cold,
retaining screws strip out and the UV light (and sewer gas) can
make them brittle. Now what is happening is children are
stepping on them and because the cover is round, it flips on its
axis, the child falls in and the cover slams back in place.
There have been 4 incidents of this occurring in the last year
alone and as more of these risers are installed, age and get
damaged the number is going to go up dramatically in the coming
The solutions are simple: get a
www.fakerock.com to cover
it up, or build a small decorative cover (a fake well house or
windmill) to protect it. Don't let your child become the
Funny one...unless you were
Allentown New Jersey--April
Child falls in septic hole;
family warns town of dangers
ALLENTOWN Five seconds that's how long Gerri Carter turned
away from her children to pick up something on her backyard
lawn. And that's how quickly her 2-year-old son plunged down an
abandoned septic tank hole that she didn't know existed until
last week's accident. When Ms. Carter stood up, her son, James,
was nowhere to be found. Calling out repeatedly to him, she
didn't hear a sound from her son. It wasn't until James' twin
sister, Katie, came running over yelling and pointing that Ms.
Carter found her son 6 feet underground and up to his neck in
mud, water and leaves in a septic tank hole.
Fortunately, James is OK, but Ms. Carter is still shaken that
this could happen to her family. No one is to blame, she said,
but she wants to use the experience to warn other Allentown
families about what could happen in their own back yards.
needs to warn homeowners about this. People think they're safe
in their back yards and they may not be," Ms. Carter said.
family's ordeal began in the late afternoon of April 12. It was
a nice day and Ms. Carter and the twins were playing in the back
yard. The family had no idea their home had an unfilled septic
tank hole. James just happened to be standing over the hole when
the ground gave out and he fell though the 10-inch diameter
was so far underground that his screams could not be heard above
ground across the yard. When Ms. Carter got closer she could see
that her son was terrified and screaming loudly, but he was too
far down for her to pull him out. More stones and debris would
fall on top of James every time she approached the hole. Ms.
Carter sprang into action, calling 911, and emergency responders
raced to her home, especially after recognizing the North Main
Street address Ms. Carter's husband Brad is a chief at Hope
emergency crews tried to widen the hole, but more debris was
falling around James and giving out under the adults' weight.
Ms. Carter feared pieces of the concrete cap that covered that
hole would hit her son's head. Finally, James stuck his arm up
far enough for his mom to grab it and pull him out. The crews
later determined that a 3-inch thick concrete cap used to cover
the septic tank hole had deteriorated over the years. Although
only 31 pounds, James' weight was too much for the broken cap
and layer of earth to support.
Ms. Carter spent time asking "what if?" What if it had rained
the night before and the hole's water level was even higher than
James' neck? What if Katie, a full head shorter than James, had
fallen in instead? "It's a scary thing. Homeowners need to be
aware of this. We should have the choice of filling the holes so
another child doesn't have to go through this," Ms. Carter said.
"Everyone should be warned so they can fill the holes
themselves. If our cap broke it can happen to anyone."
aspect of the Carters' story is that the family had no idea a
septic tank hole was even in their back yard. The Carters
weren't informed about the site when they moved into the house
one year ago, although that's not necessarily unusual the
family lived in a different house in Allentown for a decade
without ever knowing if there was an abandoned hole there. The
important thing, Ms. Carter said, is for everyone to find out
created a public sewer system in the 1950s, but before then
homeowners were privately responsible for their waste. That is
part of the reason that no map marking old septic sites exists,
Mayor Stu Fierstein explained. Since homes were required to
close their private systems to hook into the public sewer, it is
reasonable to assume that any home predating the sewer system
will have an abandoned septic tank site. Whether that site is
filled in or just capped and covered could vary by property.
have already filled their hole with dirt and the children are
back outside playing. But Ms. Carter fears there could be
another hole somewhere. She just doesn't want to find it the
hard way. "Everyone needs to be very
careful," she said. "I just want people to realize what could
happen in their own back yard."
8-year-old boy falls into 30-foot-deep septic hole
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
California--An 8-year-old boy who fell into a 30-foot-deep hole
on private property in Flintridge
was rescued unharmed.
arrived at the scene at 3:23 p.m. and had the boy out of the
hole by 3:52 p.m., according to authorities.
used a rope and pulleys to lift the boy to safety. He was taken
to a hospital for further examination but appeared to be in good
James Cornwall, told reporters outside Huntington Memorial
Hospital he was just running across the yard when he fell. He
said his wrists and fingers hurt, but he was otherwise OK.
said the hole was only 20 inches wide, and the boy was standing
in waist-deep water when they arrived.
after falling in septic tank
October 06, 2005
A Flagler County mother and
father discovered their 2-year-old daughter drowned in a
water-filled septic tank Thursday after noticing she was missing
for 20 minutes, officials said.
Sorcha McCraney fell into the tank
at her family's home being built in rural Bimini, near the
Daytona North subdivision, according to the Flagler County
Sheriff's Office. The new septic tank in the family's yard on
Garden Lane, off State Road 100, was in the ground and covered
with dirt, but "the cover was off" an access hole, according to
sheriff's Lt. David O'Brien. The tank was not in service.
"Mom and dad were working on the
house and the child went in the back yard," O'Brien said.
Sorcha's parents are Jessica and Sidney McCraney. Deputies
arrived within minutes of the 3:50 p.m. call for help, he said.
"The deputies did CPR to try to revive the child," O'Brien said.
Attempts to revive her were "still in progress when the child
was transported by the ambulance."
O'Brien said investigators were
still uncertain as to how long the child might have been in the
septic tank. The girl was transported to Florida Hospital
Flagler and arrived about 4:30 p.m.
Pending the outcome of the
investigation, charges could be filed if criminal negligence was
a factor in the accident. "We're looking at every avenue,"
The drowning is the second this
year involving a toddler in Flagler County.
Maria's organs will be donated
By Fanny S.
The family of Maria Carmen
Gomez, the 2-year-old Ingleside girl who fell into a
septic tank last Saturday, told her goodbye Wednesday
after deciding to donate her organs.
The family of
Maria Carmen Gomez, the 2-year-old Ingleside girl who
fell into a septic tank last Saturday, told her goodbye
Wednesday after deciding to donate her organs.
Police officials were called to the 2900 block of
Penoak Avenue Saturday to search for Maria after her mother,
Antonia Veronica Gomez, couldn't find her. Maria's grandfather,
Victor Gomez, found her submerged headfirst in an abandoned
septic tank located about 25 feet from the front door of their
She never regained consciousness. Child
Protective Services is investigating the incident in the
interest of Maria's sibling, who is currently staying with
relatives, said Aaron Reid, CPS spokesman. Reid would not
release any information about the sibling.
The unfilled septic tank Maria fell into has
become the subject of a potential lawsuit, Huerta said.
"Someone should have covered that hole because it wasn't being
used," he said.
Huerta is investigating the party responsible for
the unfilled hole and said there might be a handful of
Victor Gomez purchased the property and home
several weeks ago and the family moved in three weeks before the
incident. Gomez has a conveyance, a general warranty lien, on
the property, Huerta said.
"I don't believe (the Gomez family) knew the
septic tank was even there," Huerta said. "(Victor Gomez) found
out when he was looking for the baby."
Contact Fanny S. Chirinos at 886-3759 or
February 7, 2005
Elderly Woman Rescued from
Stratford, NJ Feb. 7, 2005
Crews removed a
person from a septic hole in a back yard in the unit block
of Temple Avenue in Stratford, New Jersey.
Crews rescued 92-year-old
Katherine McCleary. Officials tell Action News she was
walking in her backyard, when an abandoned septic tank caved
in, trapping her anywhere from 8 to 15 feet underground.
A mailman working his route
heard her crying and got help. Rescue crews worked for about
an hour to free her. She was taken to Cooper Medical Center
where she was listed in stable condition.
Action News was told Katherine
was alert when she was rescued, but was complaining of
abdominal pain. Crews were filling in the hole so this
doesn't happen again.
Copyright Action News, 2005. All Rights Reserved.
McCleary died on Valentines Day from the injuries sustained
in the fall.
your property have a cesspool at one time? The first
thing to do is study the history of the house and
community. If the house was built in 1963 but the city
sewer didn't run a line out to the neighborhood until
1975 (a very common occurrence in the suburbs around the
country) you had some type of system in the yard.
homes are hooked up to the city pipe the existing system
is supposed to be filled in, but don't count on it.
This was one of those building codes that seldom got
enforced back in those days.
looks like your property may have had a system on the
property at one time, call a septic contractor to locate
it and fill it in. The cost is usually $500 to $1,500
which is far cheaper than a funeral. And if you think
that is expensive, wait until you have one of your
neighbors falls into your cesspool. The latest lawsuit
I heard of is for 50 Million dollars. That $1,500 would
look pretty cheap then.
DEATH HIGHLIGHTS CESSPOOL DANGER
CHARLES SUSSMAN and BRIDGET
New York Post . New York,
N.Y.: Sep 5, 2001. pg. 025
Copyright 2001, The New
York Post. All Rights Reserved)
Experts warn that the thousands of old-style
cesspools at Long Island homes are accidents waiting to happen -
as family and colleagues mourned the death of an off-duty DEA
agent who was sucked into his backyard septic pool after it
specialists in Huntington Station, where the horrifying accident
happened Monday, said old-style "block" cesspools - which serve
many Long Island houses built before 1970 - frequently cave in
without warning because they are held together with "old bricks
specialists said they receive dozens of calls a year reporting
collapses from the Huntington area. Experts said that new,
pre-cast cesspools which are made of steel and concrete are
safer - but cost around $4,000 to install. Building codes
require new houses to have pre-cast pools, but do not say old
ones must be replaced.
The body of
Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Michael LoBasso, a father
of two, was finally recovered from the cesspool early yesterday
after rescuers with breathing apparatus worked for 18 hours.
"I was sick,
absolutely sick when I heard about the accident," said neighbor
Teri Colleary. LoBasso, 35, had been with the DEA for 11 years.
"We and the
family are devastated. He had a good career ahead of him and had
a good one in the past," said Elizabeth Jordan, special agent.
have a cesspool that is still in use (as many are) have
a contractor come out and replace it with a proper
system...you will have to do it sooner or later anyhow
so do it before you have an accident.
don't listen to those pinheads that say your system is
grandfathered in. You can not
grandfather health or environmental issues...but this is
something many health depts. people still believe in.
The reason so many system have slipped through the
cracks is because the septic industry is by far the most
fragmented and unregulated of all the building trades.
that is going to change over the next few years because
the environmental damage from these bad systems is one
of the leading sources of pollution so get ready for
some major changes in the septic industry. Read this
article to see why it is going to have to change
Danger in the Water
Two young boys drown in neighbor's
Saturday, March 15,
2003 Posted: 7:15 PM EST (0015 GMT)
A cover is placed
over the septic tank where the boys drowned.
WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (AP) --
Authorities said Saturday they were investigating the deaths of
two young boys who drowned in a neighbor's septic tank.
The boys' bodies were found
submerged Friday in a partially uncovered tank filled with 4
feet to 5 feet of water.
Houston County Sheriff's Sgt.
Bill Kast said it appeared that Tremaine James, 4, and Tyrin
James, 3, had wandered into the neighbor's yard while their
mother was asleep. Police began searching for the boys after the
mother awoke and reported them missing.
The septic tank the bodies were
found in had been in disrepair for about two weeks after a
towing company pulling a car out of the yard broke the concrete
top of the tank, officials said. The tank had been pumped out,
but water had accumulated and it rained heavily the night before
the boys drowned, authorities said.
Warner Robins is 90 miles
southeast of Atlanta.
locking covers for septic tanks for less than $100.
Have your contractor put one on NOW!!!
drowns in Jefferson Co. septic tank
April 21, 2004
By TIM MILLER
6 News Anchor/Reporter
Tennessee--A two-year-old boy drowned Wednesday in Jefferson
County after falling into an open septic tank.
Detective Bud McCoig showed 6 News the area where the drowning
occurred, behind the home of his uncle, Paul Luttrell, on
Eslinger Road in New Market.
Lindsey, of Mascot in Knox County, fell into the septic tank
behind the house shortly after 11:00 a.m. He and his mother and
little brother were visiting the house when the accident
Lindsey was playing on the back deck when the family lost track
of him. He had left the fenced-in deck and fallen into six feet
of sewage. Emergency workers found him after about 20 minutes.
Lindsey was "...rushed to Jefferson Memorial Hospital and CPR
was issued to the child all the way to the hospital. But all
methods of trying to save the child failed. It is a terrible
McCoig, the concrete lid over the tank had been left off so
septic work could be done. It's since been put back in place, to
prevent another drowning.
County Sheriff's Department won't file any charges. An autopsy
will be conducted Thursday at UT Medical Center.
rescue Warwick man from messy predicament
WARWICK: Police and
firefighters plucked a 67-year-old man from his septic tank.
By Chris McKenna
The Times Herald-Record
A 67-year-old Warwick
man was rescued after an ordeal that could have resulted in one
of the most horrible deaths imaginable. John Dougherty was
outside his house last Friday morning when the top of his
underground septic tank caved in. Dougherty spent nearly an
hour up to his shoulders in raw sewage, the obnoxious stench
assailing his senses as the minutes went by. "I was starting to
get really, really cold," Dougherty said. "I was really just
worrying that no one would hear me." He was gripping the jagged
metal edges of the tank and had lost feeling in his legs when
police and firefighters finally hoisted him out of the icy
The harrowing experience began
when Dougherty went to the side of his house to shovel a path in
the snow for the electric meter reader. Suddenly, his metal
septic tank which, unbeknownst to him, had corroded in the 35
years since his house was built gave way under his feet, and
the 270-pound man dropped into cold sewage. "It's like there
was no cover on it," said the retired Ford factory worker and
longtime Warwick resident. "I just went through the snow." He
remained stuck there for about 45 minutes, police said, before
his wife, Catherine, heard his cries for help and found him.
She dialed 911 around 10:30 a.m., and police, fire and
ambulance personnel arrived.
To extricate Dougherty, a rope
was tied around him and then looped over the top rung of the
ladder on a fire truck that had been parked on Dougherty's lawn,
said Warwick police Sgt. Keith Quackenbush, one of the officers
who responded. Then, using the rope and ladder as a pulley,
seven people police officers and firefighters lifted
Dougherty out of the muck. He was wrapped in blankets and taken
to St. Anthony Community Hospital. "In my 29 years (on the
force) you always say you've seen everything this was the
first I've seen that," Quackenbush said. And police Chief
Thomas McGovern Jr. added: "If that had been a kid, forget about
it. He's just lucky his wife was there." Dougherty, who was
released from the hospital after two hours, said he suffered no
injuries, although he was given a tetanus shot and is taking
antibiotics to ward off an E. coli infection.
"I think anybody with a metal
tank," he said, "is taking a chance, especially when it gets up
there in years."
Saturday, June 19, 2004
· Last updated 5:40 p.m. PT
Boy falls into septic tank,
-- A toddler apparently suffocated after he fell into an
8-foot-deep septic tank in the front yard of a neighbor's home
north of this Eastern Washington town.
Carson Horst was playing outside with his 5-year-old brother
before he fell on Friday, Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Bryan
One or both of
the children had pried open the tank's covering, Pfeiffer said.
Chief Deputy Coroner Mavis Williams said she believes the boy
suffocated because there was not enough water in the tank for
him to have drowned.
The boy fell in
the front yard of a home next door to where Carson lived with
his parents, Steve and Kimberly Horst. It happened as his
mother was picking cherries in the front yard where the boys
from: Tri-City Herald, http://www.tri-cityherald.com/
101 Elliott Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119
December 5, 2006
2, nearly drowns in septic tank -- Faith, medical response
credited with keeping child alive
Prayer and a heroic medical effort have kept a 2-year-old
Brownwood boy alive after he fell into a septic tank while
playing Thursday morning at a relative's home and nearly
drowned, going without a pulse for an hour or more, the boy's
is in Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, and his vital
signs were stable this morning, said the boy's uncle, Brian
Wade. Doctors have said Garret faces challenges that include
possible swelling of the brain and infection and "is not out of
the woods," Wade said. Garret was flown to the Fort Worth
hospital after doctors and other medical staff at Brownwood
Regional Medical Center brought him from death's door, Wade
doctors have been able to reduce the amount of oxygen they are
giving the boy. Wade also said Garret has started to try to
open his eyes and has taken some breaths on his own, overriding
He said doctors indicated they will do a CAT scan
today. He said family members and friends, including those from
Heartland Church, where the family attends, kept up a prayer
vigil as the emergency room staff worked for about an hour to
save the boy's life. "It was an absolutely heroic effort ...
I'm just so thankful that they didn't give up," Wade, who is
news director for KOXE Radio, said of the medical staff.
He said his mother, Cheri Wade - Garret's grandmother - was
caring for Garret and two other grandchildren. According to a
report written by Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Thompson, Cheri Wade went
outside to check on the children and didn't see Garret. She saw
that the lid was off septic tank and looked in, but didn't see
Cheri Wade called 9-1-1 at 10:06 a.m., looked in the septic tank
once again and saw Garret floating in the water while talking
with the 9-1-1 dispatcher, Thompson's report states. She pulled
the boy out and began CPR under the instruction of the
dispatcher, according to the report. "I don't know how long the
child was in there," said Sheriff's Lt. Ellis Johnson, who was
at the scene. "It was horrible."
Brian Wade said his mother, first saw a toy truck floating in
the septic tank's brackish water, and then saw Garret. "The EMS
guys, I understand, got there quickly," Wade said. "Everybody,
it seemed, in the county responded in amazing time."
Wade said he arrived to find ambulances, fire trucks and law
enforcement vehicles at the scene, and his nephew was being
loaded into an ambulance. An EMS employee told Wade that the
boy was not breathing and did not have a pulse. "You can't
imagine ... our family is really close," Wade said, describing
his reaction. "My nieces and nephews are like my own kids."
At one point, Wade said, a doctor told family members that
medical personnel could get only an occasional pulse and that
Garret's prognosis was poor. "The medical staff at the hospital
just did a tremendous job. There were times when there were as
many as a dozen people working (on Garret). Nobody would quit."
Man falls into 6-foot septic tank,
By Jason Foster--The Herald
(Published July 28 2004)
SMYRNA -- A 45-year-old western York County man drowned in his
septic tank Tuesday in a case the county coroner called one of
the most unusual he's ever investigated. Ernest Lee Teague of
5100 Black Highway was working to unclog his 6-foot-deep septic
tank around 1 p.m., but it's unclear what caused him to fall
in, said Capt. Glenn Williams of the York County
Sheriff's Office. "It just appears to be a tragic accident,"
Based on minor injuries
Teague received from the fall, it appears he fell head-first
into the tank, estimated to hold 600 to 800 gallons, York County
Coroner Doug McKown said. "We'll never know whether he slipped
or passed out," he said. McKown said Teague's wife, Denise,
told authorities she became worried her husband had fallen into
the tank when she saw a dime on the lip of the entrance that
presumably came from his pocket. She then got a tool and stirred
it through the water, revealing her husband's hat, Mc-Kown said.
Teague, who was described
as an all-around handyman, worked for the Carpenter and
Millwright Local 312 out of Lexington, N.C., his wife said. When
he wasn't working, Teague did remodeling jobs on the side, she
said. "He was just well-liked and well-respected by everybody,"
No witnesses Denise Teague
said she and her husband were rearing their two granddaughters.
She and the granddaughters were the only ones home at the time
of the incident, but no one saw what happened, she said. "I
hadn't heard him in a little while," she said, adding that she
didn't know he had started working on the septic tank. "I didn't
know he had the lid open." As authorities investigated the
scene, Teague's work tools -- including a plumber's snake he was
using to unclog the septic system -- were still strewn around
the 16-inch-by-16-inch tank opening.
As news of Teague's death
spread, friends gathered in front of the home, near Smyrna, to
help console the family. "One of the best. Would give you the
shirt off his back if you wanted it," said Danny Dover, 52,
Teague's friend of nine years. Dover said Teague was always
willing to help others. "Talked low. Never talked loud," Dover
said of his friend. "One of the best-hearted people in the
world." Jason Foster firstname.lastname@example.org