Toddler Dies After Falling Into Grease Trap Outside Tim Horton's in 'Unspeakable Tragedy'

Tim Horton's restaurant surrounded in caution tape
WROC/YouTube

A family in upstate New York is grieving the shocking death of their toddler this week, after the unidentified 3-year-old fell into an underground grease trap behind a Tim Horton's restaurant in Rochester. According to NBC New York, police were first called when the small boy was reported missing, but moments later, a tragic scene unfolded when he was discovered inside the tank.

  • An eyewitness reportedly sprang into action, pulling the boy from the trap and performing CPR.

    First responders took over as soon as they arrived, but the boy could not be saved. He was pronounced dead shortly after being rushed to nearby Strong Memorial Hospital, according to The New York Post.

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  • The scene was reportedly devastating for first responders -- to say nothing of the boy's poor mother, who stood by as they tried to save him.

    Rochester Police Investigator Frank Camp, who later told reporters the boy fell through a plastic cover on the grease trap, called it an "unspeakable tragedy." He also added that calls of this kind, involving the tragic deaths of innocent children, are the "No. 1" worst kinds they get.

    "No one ever wants to see anything like this," said Camp. "Rest assured that before the Rochester Police Department leaves the scene, this thing will be secured so it won’t happen to anyone else, I guarantee you that."

  • Accidents of this kind have happened before -- including one involving another 3-year-old in 2017.

    In that case, the toddler girl fell into a 6-foot-deep grease trap in Auburn, Alabama, while playing with her siblings outside a local ice cream shop. The death prompted local lawmakers to act swiftly -- legislation was soon passed to require more secure covers to be placed over restaurant grease traps -- to prevent the same kind of accident from happening twice. 

    And just last year, in 2018, another small child slipped and fell into a restaurant grease trap -- though that time, the 5-year-old was rescued and the accident was luckily not fatal.

  • Grease traps are commonly found outside restaurants. Grease traps collect cooking grease and other solids.

    Susan Gresh, owner of Biotech Drainline Services, told USA Today that restaurants and other commercial properties typically have them to prevent pipes from getting clogged or damaged. This becomes a concern when dishes are cleaned, since water and oils will mix together as they're washed down the drain. But if the oils aren't separated from regular wastewater, it could cause some major problems later.

    “In the winter it hardens, and then it affects the infrastructure of the main sewer lines,” Gresh explained.

    Some of these tanks are located indoors, or above ground. But they're also often underground, in restaurant parking lots -- where customers and kids can potentially access to them. 

    Time will tell if this tragedy will cause New York lawmakers to move as quickly as their counterparts did in Alabama, and pass new restrictions on how grease traps of this kind are secured.