SENOIA, Ga. – A mother has a scary warning for parents after two young children fell in to a disgusting grease trap.
The two young children survived, but it was a close call, said their mom.
And she says, it happened in a second.
The children, 3 and 5 years old, were playing in an open area between a gas station and restaurant, when the top of the manhole cover flipped and they plunged to the bottom.
Kristen Blankenship can't even get close to her kids clothes from that day.
"She still stinks to me; I can still smell it in her hair," she said.
Her children, Madison and Jackson were playing in a grassy area near the Marathon gas station in Senoia, while their dad put air in the tires.
They were in a grassy area between the gas station and an abandoned restaurant.
Kristen was right next to them when they fell through a manhole cover in to an old grease trap on the restaurant's property.
"It has a very flimsy, broken, plastic cover over it, and the lid just flipped off—and there they go, into this hole," she said.
Her son was able to catch himself on the ledge. While he was scraped and bruised, he was OK, his mom said.
Madison, however, went under.
"I didn't see her. And it's just a black hole of sludge.”
Kristen dove in, head-first to find her daughter.
"I just start digging. I dug my hands in and started feeling for the first thing I could find," she said.
She was able to grab onto Madison's arm and her husband helped pull them out.
"She's covered, head to toe, ears, nose, mouth, everything, covered with this stuff," she said.
She and her husband rushed to clean Madison up, leaving her diaper on the ground, and her yellow sippy cup down in the sludge.
They called 911, the health department and the city, trying to figure out what they should do next.
The restaurant filed for bankruptcy in 2012, so she had a hard time tracking down who to talk to.
Coweta County Code Enforcement sent a crew to check it out.
"The first thing she said was, ‘I'm so sorry.’ Her crew said this was a disgusting grease trap...it was absolutely not up to code," she said.
According to the health department, manhole covers have to be secured and bolted down, but they only inspect the covers once with each new property owner. Then, it's up to the property owner to maintain the cover.
"I'm not trying to put these people out of business. I'm not trying to sue or slander. I just want it to be fixed," she said.
The property owner refused to go on camera for this story, and an employee told 11Alive they didn't even know the manhole was there.
The county told us it's in the City of Senoia's jurisdiction.
Kristen doesn't care who fixes it, she just wants it done.
"I don't want someone else's child to be seriously injured for something to be done," she said.
Senoia Code Enforcement went out to inspect the manhole cover and issued the new owner of the abandoned restaurant a written citation. He said that they agreed to fix the issue.
When restaurants are operational, the grease traps need to be cleaned out every 90 days, but since the restaurant went in to bankruptcy in 2012, that has not been done.
The code enforcement officer said, he will work closely with the officer to make sure it is clearly marked and heavy steel lids with locks are installed.