Marina response still limited after child falls into septic tank

Marina, parents respond to child falling in septic tank

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- 11Alive is holding the powerful accountable after a local marina refused to take responsibility for a horrific accident on their property.

This is the story of 3-year-old Perry Cooper who fell into an unsecured septic tank.

Now, for the first time, 11Alive is hearing from the marina. The marina said they’re investigating the incident.

But that’s not enough for Perry’s family who said they can’t forget what happened to him.

“I remember picking a piece of toilet paper out of his hair,” the boy’s mother Laura Cooper said. “And the grease, it was everywhere – there was sewage everywhere.”

As soon as they pulled Perry out of the 7-foot septic tank, they wanted to make sure he was safe.

“I was able to get him over to the shower immediately,” his mother said. “Start getting it out of his eyes and his ears and his mouth – trying to get him not to swallow it.”

Doctors told them Perry was lucky to survive.

If he had swallowed the sewage or inhaled it when he went under, it could have killed him, Laura recounted.

“We’re on our second round of antibiotics and it’s just been a nightmare,” she said.

While Perry is recovering, his family said they’re frustrated with the Marina’s lack of concern.

The restaurant owner called them to apologize, but they haven’t heard back from the marina.

The mother said she had to call five times before anyone even called her back.

“To think that no one followed up with us, that we had to take that step,” the mother said.

A spokesman for the marina said they are aware of the incident and have turned it over to their insurance company to investigate. But the Coopers said workers at the restaurant told them they knew the septic tank covers were a problem days before the accident.

“There were signs previously; there were large rocks on the top of the covers,” Laura said.

Restaurant workers told the Coopers they removed the signs and rocks to set up for an event.

The sewage company told 11Alive they warned the marina the manhole covers were not secure on Tuesday. The child fell in on Saturday.

A spokesman for the company refused to comment on those allegations – only saying they would continue to investigate.

“It’s just frustrating that we feel like we’re getting no response,” the infuriated mother said.

The Coopers said they want the property to invest in safety so this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s child.

The health department said septic tanks are required to have locking covers when they’re installed. But after that, it’s the responsibility of the property owner to maintain them.

11Alive’s Kaitlyn Ross first broke this story on 11Alive News at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Stay updated on this and other stories by downloading the FREE 11Alive News app now in the iTunes store or on Google Play.

(© 2016 WXIA)


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