Neighbors say city workers put school children in danger

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 10:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 11:00 PM

HOUSTON -- Neighbors believe the city of Houston ignored their concerns about a dangerous trench on a busy sidewalk that children use every day.

The gaping hole, about four feet deep and 15 feet long, caught the attention of parents at Ashford Elementary. The trench was right outside of the school on Whittington Drive; a route that kids take to get to and from school.

Neighbors were especially worried with all of the trick-or-treaters taking to the streets on Halloween night.

“With all the rain last night, it was flooded to the top. It looked like a big puddle. Anybody could just hop in there,” said neighbor Tristan Rieckhoff. “Full of water, somebody could drown.”

Tristan Rieckhoff said he began calling the city at 8 a.m. and got nowhere. He decided to buy some caution tape at a nearby Loews so he could block off the area himself.

A city worker responded later in the afternoon and told Rieckhoff that a work order would be put in.

KHOU got a much different response after one phone call to the city. Spokesman Alvin Wright said the city was “shocked” and called the unsupervised trench outside of Ashford Elementary “unacceptable”.

“It’s dangerous. The city did a poor job with this. How did this happen exactly?,” asked neighbor Nicholas Vogel.

KHOU shared photos of the trench with the city. A public works crew responded about an hour later, and a dump truck quickly filled the trench with dirt.

“Better late than never,” said neighbor Ethan Tritt. “It takes someone with some influence to push the buttons to get people to move.”

One neighbor said the trench had been opened up for about a week, and the city just left it there.

A crew had apparently dug it up to fix a water main break.

City spokesman Alvin Wright said this is not common practice, and the city will be launching an investigation.

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