3-year-old boy dies after falling into unsecured grease trap behind Tim Hortons restaurant, family devastated
A three-year-old boy reportedly lost his life Monday morning after falling into a grease trap outside a Tim Hortons restaurant on Rochester's east side.
The boy fell through a plastic lid on the ground and landed in the trap behind the restaurant located at 1250 University Avenue near Culver Road, according to Rochester Police Department Investigator Francis Camp.
Police responded to a report of a child missing from the location around 10.56 am. However, they received another call just moments later to inform the child had been located, Democrat & Chronicle reports.
The child was subsequently removed from the grease trap and administered CPR until first responders arrived at the scene.
As the ambulance rushed the child to a hospital, employees were seen crying and consoling each other outside the restaurant.
Doctors at the Strong Memorial Hospital could not revive the child—who cannot be identified for legal reasons—and pronounced him dead shortly after arrival, Camp said.
"This is a horrible, unimaginable unspeakable tragedy," he said.
The boy allegedly fell through the plastic lid into a tank that contained used grease in a liquified form, per evidence retrieved. The tank was located just 6 feet from the establishment's back door, Camp added.
A grease trap is typically made of steel and used to keep fats, oils, and grease out of the sanitary sewer system.
"Rest assured that before the Rochester Police Department leaves the scene, this thing will be secured," Camp said.
That said, the grease trap is not something that would fall under the purview of restaurant inspectors as it is located outside the kitchen and food prep area, according to Ryan Horey, a spokesperson for Monroe County's Department of Public Health.
The site was last inspected in July 2018.
Such grease traps are usually operated by third-party agencies that should have some sort of established fail-safe procedures to ensure the safety of civilians or customers, Horey said.
Nonetheless, the tragedy has now raised a barrage of questions around the supervision of restaurant grease traps, including the laws, rules, and regulations that ensure their safety.
According to a spokesman for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), investigations into workplace deaths can include code enforcement, local building departments, as well as workplace safety agencies.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Tim Hortons said the company was fully cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation.
"What occurred today was a tragedy and on behalf of the Tim Hortons family, we offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the young boy who passed away," the company said in an email to the Democrat and Chronicle Monday afternoon.
While addressing reporters who had gathered at the scene, Camp appeared markedly emotional.
"This is the worst thing that you can encounter as a police officer," he said.