Kids and ponds: Lawmakers look to prevent future tragedies

WASHINGTON — The death of a 10-year-old Gaithersburg, Md. boy who died after being pulled from the icy waters of a pond in Montgomery County has prompted one Maryland state lawmaker to consider legislation requiring fences around storm water ponds.

Maryland state Sen.r Nancy King called it a “no brainer” and said she was surprised that it wasn’t the standard already.

“It’s a surprise to me,” she says.

“With the liability, I would think they would do it [fencing ponds] anyway,” she adds, referring to developers who have to provide sediment control facilities on their properties.

But Maryland state law is silent on the issue. Jay Apperson, spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment, explains in an email:

“State storm water management regulations are intended to ensure that storm water and the associated pollution is properly handled and as such do not specifically address safety issues.”

King says she’s working on drafting legislation that might prevent tragedies like the one that took the life of D’Angelo “DJ” McMullen. He was playing with two other boys when he fell through the ice in the pond at Diamondback and Reprise drives in Gaithersburg.

There was fencing on one side of the pond — on the section that runs along Diamondback Drive — but was nothing near Reprise Drive until yesterday.

Gaithersburg officials are looking into the matter. While state law did not require a fence, the development agreement required that the pond, known as Pond #1 on site plans, would have to have a fence.

John Schlichting, planning and code administration director with the City of Gaithersburg, tells WTOP that as of October, inspection records showed the pond had been fenced. Neighbors said — and fire officials confirmed — that on the day the boys went through the ice, there was no fencing around the pond. Days later, a new fence with orange ribbons tied around the top was erected.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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