YORKTOWN, Ind. – A toddler whose hands and feet were badly burned as she was playing at a central Indiana splash pad is believed to have been injured by manhole covers left hot by exposure to sunlight, officials said.
Seventeen-month-old Kai’Brea Maurice was hospitalized after being burned Monday at the Yorktown Civic Green splash pad when she ran to an area with manhole covers after playing in the water.
Her burns were so severe her mother suspects she may have come into contact with acid used to the treat water flowing into the splash pad, which opened two months ago in Yorktown, about 45 miles northeast of Indianapolis.
Town Manager Pete Olson said the manhole covers are over chlorine and acid tanks needed to disinfect the water, but they don’t appear to have any leaks. He said it's instead believed Kai’Brea was burned because the manhole covers were hot from exposure to the July sun.
Officials measured the manhole covers' temperature Tuesday at about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to the concrete's temperature of 120 degrees.
After town employees painted the manhole covers white Wednesday to reflect the sunlight, Olson said those surfaces tested cooler than the surrounding concrete. He called the girl's burns “an unfortunate event."
“We were absolutely saddened. We in no way envisioned this being an area that people would get hurt,” he said.
Kai’Brea remained Wednesday night at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, where her mother, Austyn Maurice, said doctors have told her her daughter suffered deep second-degree burns although they haven’t determined the cause. She said her daughter is “doing good” despite discomfort.
“She’s just really miserable. When she wakes up, she’s shaking and scared because she’s in pain,” she said.