AP NEWS

W.Va. moving to up fines after girl’s fall into grease pit

February 28, 2020 GMT
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In this screen grab provided by WCHS-TV on Nov. 15, 2019 shows Kara Cvechko, left, at her home in South Charleston, W.Va., with her 5-year-old daughter, Kambria. After Kambria fell into a restaurant's outdoor grease pit and was rescued, West Virginia's Senate has passed legislation that would toughen fines for restaurants that have unsecured lids on the containers. The state Senate passed the bill Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. It now goes to the House of Delegates. (AP Photo/WCHS-TV via AP)
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In this screen grab provided by WCHS-TV on Nov. 15, 2019 shows Kara Cvechko, left, at her home in South Charleston, W.Va., with her 5-year-old daughter, Kambria. After Kambria fell into a restaurant's outdoor grease pit and was rescued, West Virginia's Senate has passed legislation that would toughen fines for restaurants that have unsecured lids on the containers. The state Senate passed the bill Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. It now goes to the House of Delegates. (AP Photo/WCHS-TV via AP)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia may soon stiffen fines for restaurants that fail to secure the lids of grease pits after a young girl fell into one of the collection traps last year.

The House of Delegates on Friday unanimously approved a measure to increase fines from $5 to $50 per day for businesses that don’t secure the grease pit lids. The proposal, which was unanimously approved by the Senate earlier this month, now goes back to that chamber with some minor amendments.

The bill followed an incident last November where 5-year-old Kambria Cvechko stepped on one of the lids outside a Charleston restaurant and fell into the pit’s narrow opening, submerging into the dark, putrid grease.

Her panicked mother Kara scurried down the hole headfirst as two other children anchored her feet, clawing through the slick liquid for her daughter’s arms as she could hear the girl gasping for air. Eventually, Kambria was lifted out of the pit without any major injuries.

The pits, which can hold hundreds of gallons of fluid, are meant to keep oil and grease out of sewer systems.

The proposal requires that restaurants and hotels secure their outdoor grease traps with locks and make them able to withstand loads and prevent access by children.

Cvechko’s fall was at least the fourth such incident of a child falling into a grease pit nationwide since 2017. Two cases were fatal.