This story was updated and corrected at 10:43 a.m., Monday, January 20, 2014. An explanation follows the story.
The iced-over Gaithersburg sediment pond where a 10-year-old boy slipped through on Jan. 13 and later died lacked fencing required by city officials.
On Jan. 13, D’Angelo Jayvon McMullen of Rockville had been playing with his brother and another boy on the pond when the ice gave way. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel rescued two of the boys quickly, but had to search for D’Angelo for much longer. Rescue officials surmised that he could have been submerged for up to half an hour.
He died at a local hospital later that night.
The pond was only partially fenced. On Jan. 14, the city issued a Notice of Violation to Fran Speed, a representative of Warner Construction, the site managers for Westbrook Acquisitions LLC, the developer. The notice required a 42-inch high safety fence to be reinstalled on all open sides of the pond pursuant to the sediment and erosion control plan, according to Wes Burnette, division chief for the city’s Permits and Inspections Division. While there is not a city or state code requiring safety fencing on sediment ponds, a fence was required here as part of the planning approval process during construction.
John Schlichting, Gaithersburg’s director of Planning and Code Administration, said in an email that the fence must be at least 42 inches high, have posts spaced no farther apart than 8 feet, have mesh openings no greater than two inches in width and four inches in height, with a minimum of 14-gauge wire.
Once construction is complete on the property and the pond is converted to a stormwater management pond, the fence can be permanently removed, Burnette wrote in an email to The Gazette.
Westbrook Acquisitions LLC, is one of the developers of the Crown project, a mix of residential and retail units built on the former Crown Farm at Fields Road and Great Seneca Highway. John Wolf, managing principal at Westbrook Partners, could not immediately be reached Friday for comment.
Charlie Maier, a spokesman for the company which owns the land containing the pond, said in a statement after D’Angelo’s death, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of a young boy’s life. Our hearts go out to the youngster’s family and friends. ... We all wish the outcome had been different.”
Maier said the owners of the site had been in contact with city officials, and were investigating how the fence had been removed.
A new fence was installed earlier this week and Burnette said it was reinspected by city workers.
The city issued another Notice of Violation on Jan. 14 for a second sediment pond on the Crown site where the fence around it appeared to have been damaged by equipment, Burnette said. Both ponds have are now properly fenced, he said.
As a result of the tragedy, the city reinspected all other sediment traps in the city, Burnette said. City officials issued a notice to Classic Communities to install a safety fence around a new sediment pond that has been constructed at Parklands, which is off of W. Watkins Mill Road.
All the notices issued have been complied with, he said.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed one of the recipients of a notice of violation, based on wrong information from Gaitherburg city officials.