Five Year Old Nearly Drowns In Sonic Grease Pit - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Five Year Old Nearly Drowns In Sonic Grease Pit

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by Kim Gebbia

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn- A five-year-old Clarksville girl nearly died after a visit to a local fast food restaurant. It wasn't the food itself, but the leftover grease from burgers and fries that almost killed her.

Five-year-old Lilly Gene nearly drowned when she stepped on a dislodged man hole cover of a grease pit. It was so deep, it covered her head and her father said he was barely able to see her hands and pull her out.

"She was drenched in sonic burger grease," said her mother, Dana Clark.

It happened when Lily went the Sonic on Madison Street in Clarksville.
Her father said she walked over a green man hole cover, then disappeared.

"She stepped, the top came open and she went straight down," Michael Clark recalled.


She fell down into at least 5 feet of old fast food cooking grease.

"I thought she was gone because I couldn't see her, initially I thought I have lost my baby girl," said Clark.

Clark tried to grab his youngest daughter's hand, but said it was barely visible through the thick slime.

He recalled he was, "moving it around, grabbing it and I could see a little bit turning, which was probable her hand shaking, and I was like the only way I am going to get her is if she raises her hands up," said Clark.

His wife believes a guardian angel was there to help save her daughter from drowning in the grease pit.

"My husband said he felt like in an instant that God told him tell her to raise her hand because he couldn't see anything, she was completely submerged in this sea of grease," she said.

About 10 seconds later he pulled the 5-year-old out. With his daughter safe, he wondered why this grease pit was located so close to the outdoor dining area and why it was left open. 

"Why is it right out here? Why is it right where the public or anybody can step on it? Something like that needs to be secure,"  said Clark.

The green lid is surrounded by mulch, right near the restaurant picnic tables. It's labeled 'poisonous' and even has a child safety lock on it. But the Clark's say it's clear something wasn't secure if a 5 year old can fall in so easily.

"Somebody was negligent. And I am not one to place blame we all make mistakes, but there needs to be a guard around it with a lock, this should never have happened," said Lily's mom.

An ambulance took Lily to Gateway Medical Center where they cleaned grease from inside her ears and nose. She is fine physically but her parents worry how this will affect her in the years to come.

"I just can't imagine what a little child would feel like first of all being underwater, if you feel like you are drowning in water, but drowning in grease?" said Clark.

"She's scared she's frightful. I don't want something like the to harm her later in life," said her father.

Sonic's corporate office confirmed that this happened when the restaurant's grease trap lid became dislodged and told News Channel 5, "We are deeply sorry for any injury or harm that may have come to this child and are taking action to ensure an accident like this does not occur in the future."

Lily's fall was all caught on surveillance camera.  Sonic said they would show it to the parents, but refused to release it News Channel 5.

The Clark's are pursuing legal action.

Email: kgebbia@newschannel5.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/KimGebbia
Twitter: Twitter.com/NC5_KimGebbia

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