19-year-old Adriana Rhine was electrocuted to death at a fountain on the campus of South Georgia Technical College in Americus in September 2012. She was with her 3-year-old son, Zi’Quan.
Adriana was a student, but on the day of the accident she was on campus to donate blood and visit her sister, Jasmine, who was also a student there, for her birthday. Adriana and her son waited for Jasmine while the little boy played with a ball, which rolled away into the fountain. The fountain had a single, knee-high barrier chain, which had previously had spouts of water several feet high. Adrian stopped her son from chasing after the ball and she went in to get it for him. When she reached into the water to get the ball, she was electrocuted. Little Zi’Quan was next to her, watching as she struggled. She screamed out for help, but passers-by who tried to help had to let go because they were getting shocked, too.
Adriana’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit last May, hoping that others would not be injured or killed by this danger.
Investigators found issues with the wiring for lighting and the motor beneath the fountain. Officials require inspection when fountains are built to make sure of safety, but then maintenance is the owner’s responsibility. Adriana’s family argued that the fountain was dangerous due to poor maintenance, which allowed the water to carry an electric current, which caused Adriana’s untimely death.
Experts said that if fountains are not maintained, the water could send a charge of 110 volts into someone touching it. There was notice of the danger of this particular fountain, as well, since just one month prior to Adriana’s tragic death, another student was electrocuted after falling in the fountain, and the person who rescued her was also shocked.
The state settled the lawsuit last November, paying the family $1.4 million. The family received $1 million, the maximum in Georgia under the law. Zi’Quan also received $400,000 for the emotional distress of witnessing his mother’s death. The family says that the $1.4 million will be in a trust fund for Zi’Quan, who is now living with his grandmother.
Despite this tragedy, there are some students who would like to see the fountain running again with a noticeable sign telling everyone to keep out of the water. The fountains are expensive to maintain and currently remains empty with the knee-high chain still present.
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