DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit’s mayor has ordered an investigation after a 12-year-old girl was electrocuted while touching a downed power line in her backyard.
Calling the incident a heartbreaking and “avoidable tragedy,” Mayor Mike Duggan says there are a lot of questions as to why no one responded to the fallen line — which had been reported prior to the girl’s death.
The girl — identified as Kabrinanna Griffin — was playing with friends behind her home on St. Mary’s, near Glendale, when the accident happened at around 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to police. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference Thursday, Duggan explained the abandoned Detroit Public Lighting line apparently fell across an active DTE Energy line and became energized.
Duggan said the city has “miles and miles” of old, dormant power lines that haven’t been used in years.
“And as the city abandoned them they never went and took them down,” the mayor said. “It appears that this is a line that probably hasn’t been used in 20 years.”
“We need to look in the city at taking these unused power lines down, because there’s no reason to leave them up there,” he continued “It’s the kind of crumbling infrastructure thing the city has left in place far too long, and we’re going to start to take a look at pulling all the unused power lines out.”
Duggan said it not yet clear why neither DTE nor Public lighting responded to calls from the child’s family about the downed line, and it’s too soon to know who’s to blame as an investigation continues.
In a joint statement, DTE and Public Lighting said their hearts and prayers go out to the Kabrinanna’s family.
“DTE and the City’s Public Lighting Department (PLD), along with first responders, are diligently working together to factually understand how this tragic event occurred,” the statement continues.
“This remains an active, complicated investigation, and we do not want to speculate on what occurred. It doesn’t matter whose line it is, it is about understanding what happened. Public safety is the number one priority for both DTE and the City. We are all committed to taking steps to ensure the safe operation of our electrical systems.”
The public, meantime, is reminded never to touch and to stay at least 20 feet away from all power lines and anything the lines may be in contact with. These lines should be considered “live” and extremely dangerous.
The public should also heed the warning of yellow caution tape, which indicates there is a downed power line in the area, and never cross yellow caution tape.
Downed or low-hanging wires can be reported online at this link, by using the DTE mobile app, or by calling 800-477-4747.