MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama family is continuing its fight for new safety rules for restaurant grease traps across the nation.
Corrie Andrews’ 3-year-old daughter, Sadie Grace, died in October 2017 at an Auburn ice cream shop, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. She fell through the plastic covering of an underground grease trap at the establishment.
This month’s death of a 3-year-old boy who fell into a restaurant’s grease trap in Rochester, New York, is a painful reminder of the need for safety regulations, Andrews said.
Andrews cried the moment she heard, knowing the suffering and lifetime of grieving the New York mother will now face. She also believes such deaths are preventable.
“What makes the mama bear in me come out is it’s the exact same thing that happened to my daughter,” Andrews said. “After what we tried to accomplish, so that the rest of the country would not have to go through this tragedy, there’s yet another mom who is experiencing shock, gut-wrenching heartache, and a nightmare that she is going to have to live with the rest of her life.”
The Andrews family fought for state legislation in Alabama requiring grease trap lids to be constructed of sturdy materials and secured by locking mechanisms.
Now, they want those rules expanded to other parts of the nation.
Though many commercial establishments have smaller, above-ground grease traps, restaurants often use larger, underground receptacles to separate oil from regular sewage. The traps can store hundreds to thousands of gallons worth of grease waste.
“Twenty-one months and one day later, another child died needlessly from a hazard that is so easily fixed,” Andrews said. “Plastic lids should not be allowed, period. They have endangered the lives of many across the country. The sad part is it gets attention when a tragedy happens. When a life has been lost, it gets attention.”
On the state level, Andrews was successful in getting the Sadie Grace Andrews Act for Alabama.
Alabama businesses can now be fined if they fail to meet the requirements, which include using grease trap covers made of material strong enough to withstand a person walking over it.
She’s continuing to push for similar protections in place elsewhere in the U.S.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous and insane to me, with all the media coverage that Sadie’s passing incurred, that there are still plastic lips on grease traps,” Andrews said. “We need to insure that this kind of freak accident and tragedy would never occur again.