VB mother warns of building hazards after her toddler falls into an unmarked gas pipe hole


VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (WAVY) – Last Tuesday, Danielle McWhite parked in front of her kiddie home near Valley Forge Lane in Virginia Beach. She and her three little ones had just got out of the car when she said her 21-month-old son had disappeared.

“I look and he’s sliding down a hole and I hear a splash,” recalled McWhite.

It was so dark in the hole that she couldn’t see him, so she started screaming for help. There were construction workers along the road and she says one of them jumped into the hole to get her son out about 4 minutes later.

“All I have on my mind is, ‘This could be the last day I see my son.” I didn’t know if he drowned, I didn’t know what was on his mind while he was there. I don’t know if he bumped his head, ”McWhite said with tears in his eyes.

When the shock subsided, she noticed that her baby had fallen into an unmarked gas pipe hole. The photos she provided to 10 On Your Side showed the 4 foot hole as the crews put up a barrier after the incident.

“Be proactive. Why did something have to happen in order for you to do what you were supposed to do in the beginning?” McWhite added.

She says her son was examined by an ambulance and eventually went to the King’s Daughters Children’s Hospital in Norfolk, where he was diagnosed with mild head trauma.

“It could have been a traumatic incident that he didn’t make it through. It doesn’t take long for someone to drown, less than a minute, they could have been dead, so I just want to point out the negligence, ”she said.

To make matters worse, McWhite says she spoke to a construction worker a week earlier about covering another unmarked hole with so many children.

“The thing is, I literally said to this guy last week, ‘You have to cover these holes. There are children here, there is a daycare center, you don’t know what could happen, ‘”said McWhite.

10 On Your Side contacted Virginia Natural Gas about the incident.

A statement said: “Virginia Natural Gas is committed to providing our customers with a safe and reliable natural gas service. Safety is our top priority. To ensure safety and reliability are maintained, we’re making a number of improvements to modernize our system as part of our Steps to Advance Virginia’s Energy (SAVE) program. The “Declaration Road SAVE” project has been running since June 21st. The members of the community in the project area were initially informed about the project in May by letters and more recently by door hangers. VNG and its contractors are committed to occupational safety, including on construction sites. VNG is investigating this incident with its contractor and is reminding community members to remain vigilant at any active construction site. “

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