Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will install safety measures at the location where a 17-year-old boy died after being swept into a storm sewer last year and take other steps to prevent another tragedy, city officials said Friday.
Under an agreement with the family of 17-year-old Logan Blake, the city will install an inlet guard structure, fencing and signage at the 41/2-foot-wide opening of the sewer behind Arthur Elementary School by May 31.
City officials are also studying options for safety improvements at two similar openings to the storm sewers near elementary schools and 14 openings near city parks. Each opening is more than 3 feet wide, connected to storm sewer conduits that are at least 100 feet in length, and less than 1,000 feet from a school or park, the city said.
Blake’s parents said they were glad the city cooperated with them to address the safety issue, saying they had no interest in pursuing a lawsuit or compensation. The city will also reimburse the family $2,000 in attorneys’ fees under the settlement, which is expected to be approved by the city council next week.
“Logan was the kind of person who would always help people and never expect any recognition or praise for it. He was quietly one of the coolest kids you ever met. Having these safety measures in place will help our family find peace, knowing that other children in our community are protected. That’s what Logan would have wanted,” his mother, Candice Blake, said in a statement.
Logan’s father, Mark Blake, added: “If this tragedy can be a catalyst for change, that will honor Logan’s memory.”
The culvert behind Arthur Elementary had neither a fence nor a grate covering the opening when Blake went to throw a Frisbee with friends after a June 30 storm brought heavy rains and flash flooding.
Blake was swept into the sewer. His friend David Bliss was sucked in when he tried to rescue him. Bliss survived after being swept through more than a mile of water-filled pipes, coming out in Cedar Lake, but Blake did not. Rescuers found the high school senior’s body in the lake the next day.
Experts say Blake’s death is part of a national problem in which too many people are sucked into storm drains and get injured or die during flash flooding.
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