The 1-year-old girl who fell into an open septic tank at Cozy Critters Child Care near Millville last week, and was rescued by a quick-acting employee, is being described as “very lucky” by the man who assisted in the rescue.
The child was playing outdoors with other youngsters on Friday, Aug. 16, when she slipped into the tank, which was not covered by a lid.
“It’s a shame it happened. I don’t know how the lid got off, but they did everything they could to help that baby. That was a brave young lady who jumped in and got that baby out,” said George Lewis, a technician at Atlantic Refrigeration in Lewes, who was at the daycare to repair a freezer when the incident happened.
That “brave young lady” he was referring to was “Miss Becky,” a daycare employee.
“She said her father had worked around septic systems. She wasn’t scared. She was in just over her head. It’s a slurry of septic. It’s all raw septic,” Lewis said.
Emergency personnel were called, and took both the baby and the daycare employee to the hospital. The baby was scared and crying, Lewis said, and vomited, but never lost consciousness.
The child’s rescuer couldn’t be reached for comment, and Cozy Critters representatives refused to comment on the incident.
Lewis credited the staff with “doing everything right.”
“Everything seemed to go by the book. They called the parents immediately. There was good teamwork. They didn’t hide from it or anything. It went as well as it could. I went back” on Monday, Lewis said, “to finish the job, and everything was back to normal.”
A representative from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) said septic tanks are inspected by the State when a property is for sale, but not at intervals once it is owned.
She said that once a septic tank is installed and approved, officials can’t know what happens to lids that should be in place. Some lids are plastic and others are made of heavy metal, she said.
Delaware State Police Troop 4 in Georgetown responded to the incident, but no charges have been filed, according to Melissa Jaffe, who handles public relations for that barrack.
“DSP did notify the Division of Family Services of this incident,” Jaffe said.
Lewis said that on the day of the incident he had seen children splashing in a blow-up kiddie pool with slide and darting through a stream of water from a hose, laughing and frolicking.
“They were running around and having a great time. I stopped for a minute, because you don’t see that old-school playing in the water in the yard like you used to. It caught my attention.
“I was going in and out of my truck, getting tools, getting parts. I saw some commotion over there. I went over there, and a couple of people were leaning over the septic tank. The lid was open.
“I heard the child cry. I tried to assist to get her. We had hold of her, then she slipped. She went away from the opening. That brave young lady said, ‘I’ll go in.’ I said, ‘OK. I’ll keep an eye on you. I’ll stay right here.’ And she pulled the baby right out,” he said.
According to a business profile on the website www.manta.com, Cozy Critters was established in 2002 and has 27 employees.
By Susan Canfora