Parks' underground cables to be checked

May 12, 2006|By LYNN ANDERSON | LYNN ANDERSON,SUN REPORTER

A contractor will survey city parks for underground cables near metal fences after the recent electrocution of a 14-year-old softball player at Druid Hill Park, city officials said yesterday.

"We want to know where the lines are and if any of them could pose a hazard," said Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin O'Malley.

She said the city also has hired a contractor to examine the underground cable at Field No. 8, where Deanna Green was killed May 5, to determine whether city officials correctly assessed the cause of the accident.

Parks Director Connie A. Brown announced Wednesday that Green died because the metal tip of an unprotected fence post came into contact with the cable and the girl touched two metal fences at once, completing a deadly electrical circuit.

In written statement to The Sun yesterday, Brown called the parks survey "precautionary" and added that there is no reason to believe that any fence is electrified. Fences at ball fields were tested last weekend after the teenager's death, and none was found to be electrified.

Guillory said that if the contractor hired to survey parks for underground cables finds one near a metal fence -- whether at a basketball court or picnic area -- city officials will "determine what steps to take next." She said city officials could move cables or fences if there is a risk of electrocution.

In other developments, Brown clarified the history of construction at Field No. 8. He said the ball field where Green was killed was constructed in 1973 or 1974 and that the underground cable was laid at the same time.

A contractor replaced one of the fences in the mid-1980s, and it was erected close to where the old one had been, Brown said. It is unclear whether the contractor had viewed the original plans for the field, but Brown said yesterday that those plans did not specify the exact location of the cable.

He said the original fence was erected near the cable and that the new one was placed directly over it.

The new fence also had longer posts, one of which eventually came in contact with the cable.

lynn.anderson@baltsun.com

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