PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The news of an electrocution at the fountains at Harbourside Place in Jupiter on Oct. 22 hit home for a Palm Beach County mother.
Rochelle Kus said a year earlier that her daughter received an electrical shock while playing in a splash pad in Palm Beach Gardens.
"It was just shocking to see that a year later a similar incident had occurred with another family," Kus said.
She wants parents to be careful if they allow their children to play in splash pads or near water fountains.
Kus said last year her daughter Jaelyn Velez, 12, waded through a public splash pad located at Downtown Palm Beach Gardens, touched a directory sign and was shocked.
Her lawsuit claims the teen suffered "a serious electrocution injury."
"Thinking back and going back to the incident, it's not OK," Kus said.
She believes the government should inspect splash pads and public fountains regularly.
But are they?
WPTV looked at the Florida laws and the National Electrical Code (NEC), which sets electric standards in 46 states including Florida.
The NEC requires ground fault interrupters (GFIs) in fountains and splash pads when they are built. However, Florida does not require fountains to be inspected periodically.
Splash pads are inspected regularly by the Florida Department of Health for water quality.
But like fountains, WPTV could not find any mandates in state or local laws subjecting them to inspections that would examine the electric systems that power water pumps or lights.
No follow-up inspections required after Florida fountains built
"Something needs to happen. Something needs to change. It's hitting too close to home," Kus implored.
She hopes change comes in the form of her lawsuit against Downtown Palm Beach Gardens and its ownership group.
In her suit, she claims the shopping center:
- Negligently failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition
- Negligently failed to correct dangerous conditions
- Negligently failed to warn the minor child of a dangerous condition
- Negligently failed to perform safety inspections of all work performed by contractors
WPTV contacted Downtown Palm Beach Gardens and its ownership group for comment. In an email with the lawyer for Downtown Palm Beach Gardens, they responded "no comment."
Kus said she'll push for mandated electrical inspections of splash pads and fountains.
She wants this regulation to honor Nate Davenport, the man who died in the Harbourside Place fountain trying to rescue a child.
"He did the right thing, and he's a hero," Kus said. "I did the same thing, and all of us parents would have done the same thing for our children."
A representative of the National Fire Protection Association, which sets electrical building code standards adopted by Florida, told WPTV the new codes now allow states, counties and municipalities to require regular inspections of fountains and splash pads "to address hazards associated with aging installations."