Coroner says 'lid was not secure' after Auburn toddler drowns in grease trap
AUBURN, AL (WTVM) – The tragic death of a 3-year-old girl on Saturday prompted city leaders to have a meeting to discuss grease traps in the city. The grease trap at Bruster's on East University Drive is where Sadie Andrews accidentally drowned.
According to Lee County Coroner Bill Harris, Sadie Andrews stepped on the lid of the grease trap, which was on ground level, and the lid released because it was not secure at all, and that prompted Auburn city officials to meet.
Harris says it appears the lid was just laying on top of the grease trap. He also said she fell in and it happened in just a couple seconds, captured on the business' security camera.
Sadie's father noticed her missing in less than a minute and they called 911. The father thought someone had taken Sadie or she was lost.
Minutes later she was found unresponsive inside the grease trap.
All death cases in Lee County are presented to a grand jury, as will this one.
In light of the tragedy, Bruster's has asked all of its franchises to conduct additional inspections of their grease traps.
There are 110 grease traps citywide, 107 of them are sealed with a cement led and are in roadways where cars drive over them; the other 3 are in other areas. The Bruster's location is one of three in the city that has a plastic lid.
City Manager Jim Buston says the city has sealed the lid where Andrews drowned with a temporary cement lid, but it will need to be replaced by the property owner later.
According to the city, the last time this grease trap was inspected where the accident happened was June.
The city describes a grease trap as a "mini septic tank" explaining its to keep grease out of the sewer system, separating grease from wastewater.
The owner periodically pumps grease out of their traps and the city says they also periodically check grease traps to make sure they don't block sewers. Typically, Buston says they check the traps a minimum of once a year.
The visitation for Andrews was Tuesday evening and hundreds lined up to pay their respects.
The funeral will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. CT at Jeffcoat Trant Funeral Home in Auburn.
A virtual yellow balloon release will be held in Sadie's honor Wednesday at 10 a.m. CT, during the time of her funeral for those who cannot attend.
A support page has been posted to support the family and funeral expenses. To help this family, click here.