YORKTOWN, Ind. — It started as a happy afternoon for 17-month-old Cai’brea Maurice, playing in the water at Yorktown’s new splash pad.
Then came a sound from little Cai’brea’s that her mother said she’ll never forget.
“Just screaming bloody murder,” Austyn Maurice recalled of the cries coming from her daughter. “She looked down and that’s when she put her hands down and that’s when her hands got burned also, and she just ran out of it because she felt her feet were on fire.”
The picture showing Cai’brea’s hands - red, the skin peeling off them - are hard for Austyn to look at. She says they show what were determined to be second- and third-degree burns.
The question now is what caused the injuries.
“The lid said acid, so that’s my gut feeling,” said Austyn of the area where Cai’brea was standing when she started screaming in pain.
Austyn is talking about two metal manhole covers. She says they had what looked like puddles of water on them.
“They’re over here playing, their feet ain't burning. They come over here to this puddle over here, their feet are on fire burning,” Austyn explained.
A day later, Cai’brea lies in a hospital bed, trying to heal.
“I feel so helpless," Austyn said. "I can’t do anything but comfort her."
Yorktown’s town manager called what happened a tragic event and says town officials are trying to figure out what caused the issue so they can fix it. In the meantime, they’ve put up orange cones around the manhole covers.
According to the town manager, they tested the water and didn’t find any chemicals that shouldn’t be in it. They say six to eight inches below the covers, there are tanks where the chemicals for the splash pad are stored.
If those tanks leaked, says the town manager, gravity would pull the chemicals down further into a secondary tank, not up to the surface.
Right now, town officials think the culprit is the metal covers that got too hot in the sun.
Whatever caused Cai’brea’s burns, her mom says the road to recovery is going to be a long one.
“I’m glad I got her to the hospital as quickly as possible. If it had been any longer, it would have been way worse,” said Austyn.
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