Uncovered storm drains discovered feet away from where boy drowned

Neighbors tell I-TEAM it's accident waiting to happen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax I-TEAM found four uncovered storm drains just feet away from where a 6-year-old boy drowned in a retention pond on Jacksonville’s Westside Sunday.

One neighbor told the I-TEAM that the drains are not only dangerous, but barely visible from the street. The neighbor said residents in the area are worried now more than ever because of the recent tragedy.

Another neighbor, William Millard, said he’s also concerned.

“It worries me about anybody, somebody on a bicycle, kids, anybody,” Millard said.

The I-TEAM circled the neighborhood and found four drains without grates on top, all within the same block. There are dozens of them on surrounding streets, but those are covered with grates that are chained down.

“Everybody around here should be concerned about that,” said Derrick Staten, who drives through the neighborhood for work.

The I-TEAM discovered that the water is 6 feet down from the top of the storm drain and then the water is another 5 feet deep.

“If somebody were to fall in there, they might be in there for hours before somebody could help them,” Millard said.

The drains were concerning to the city of Jacksonville too.

About 11:15 a.m., the I-TEAM alerted the Public Works Department and by 2 p.m., a city worker came out and staked the drains off with red danger tape.

Residents believe it’s an accident waiting to happen.

"They should patrol the whole area and check all of them out. It may be somebody stealing them. They may be old, defective, you never know,” Staten said.

Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, said these type of things need to be called into the city right away.

"Let them know what the problem is and where they're located also take photographs and send it in that way they can understand what the problem is and what they need to do,” Smith said.

Smith reiterated how dangerous the drains could be to pedestrians.

“In this area, in the morning and evening, there are children walking up and down the street here coming to and from school. And you know kids like to play and, you know, just do different things like that and it's quite easy for them to, you know, play around, get pushed in or accidentally fall in especially since they're so close to the street where they'd be walking,” Smith said.

Although the city employees told the I-TEAM that they could not go on camera, they did say they plan on staying out here, keeping a close eye on these drains until grates are put on top.

City officials later confirmed they believe the grates on top of the drains are being stolen and it has happened in the area in the past.