AMERICUS — CNHI News Service
AMERICUS — As the investigation continues into the death of a South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) student on Sept. 27, the Times-Recorder has learned that a separate incident occurred at the fountain in front of the Pope Center on Aug. 15 that left another SGTC student injured from electrical shock.
According to a student accident report, provided by SGTC, at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 15, Ashley Lane Bentley, 23, of Buena Vista was walking and pushing her son in a stroller near the fountain when she “slipped on slime” and fell into the water. Bentley reported that she was shocked and could not move. Her son and stroller were also in the fountain.
Bentley declined to go to the emergency room, but did go to her physician in Buena Vista after experiencing “burning in her hands and feet.” Bentley underwent an electrocardiogram test, according to the report, which also stated that the child was uninjured.
Dry clothes and towels were given to the student. A requisition for t-shirts, shorts, a backpack and towels was included in the report.
An employee was also injured, according to the report. LaKenya Johnson, a SGTC special services worker, fell while trying to help Bentley and her child out of the fountain.
On Aug. 15, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office was not called to the scene, but Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith said Thursday in a phone interview that his department’s investigation into the death of 19 year old Adrianna Rhine, the SGTC student who was pulled from the fountain in front of the Pope Center on Sept. 27, will include SGTC’s full report on the Aug. 15 incident.
Smith said that he learned from South Georgia Technical College President Sparky Reeves that immediately after the Aug. 15 incident, SGTC maintenance personnel were called to the scene. The fountain was drained, cleaned and sanitized.
“They checked over everything the best they could to see if there were any problems, and they couldn’t find anything,” Smith said, adding that the goal of the investigation is to make all of the facts known.
“We’re going to interview all the parties involved,” he said. “All of these things have to be looked into, substantiated. There’s a lot of information to gather.”
On Thursday, the Times-Recorder called Reeves for comment on the Aug. 15 incident, as well.
“After the lady slipped in August, we immediately took care of her and also her child that was in the stroller,” said Reeves. “We also got them dry clothes because they were wet, after we checked them out.”
Reeves said they then started taking action to make sure the fountain was safe.
“We immediately shut it down and checked for electrical and mechanical problems. We then pressure washed it, put chemicals in it, and put a retaining chain barrier around it to keep people out of it,” Reeves said.
Rhine’s body was taken to the State Crime Lab in Atlanta for autopsy, but Sumter County Coroner Greg Hancock said Saturday, information into the cause of death has not yet been made available.