The 3-year-old girl was enjoying her ice cream at Brusters in Auburn, Alabama when her parents called the police to say she had disappeared. Reportedly, the girl stepped on the cover of the grease pit, which was not secured, and it flipped open. She slipped inside, and the lid shut her in. The pit was about 2 feet wide, and 6 feet deep: much too deep for her to stand.
According to the City Manager, Jim Buston, “we simply inspect for functionality of the device, so we don’t want our sewers being clogged with grease, so we inspect how much grease has accumulated in the device and then inform the owner if they haven’t pumped it out,” meaning that it is not the city’s job to maintain the grease traps, they just make sure the business is pumping their grease properly.
The city’s 110 grease pits are mainly located in streets and roadways, and bolted down. Because Bruster’s is an ice cream shop and does not produce as much grease as a diner or restaurant, the city inspects the three allocated to Bruster’s every year or so. After this accident, city officials put a new cover over the grease pit, and bolted it down.
The coroner says, “No foul play is suspected and the death investigation indicates that she drowned in the sludge that was in the six-foot-deep inground container”. Her death has thus been ruled an accidental drowning.