Detroit's faltering infrastructure nearly takes the life of 8-year-old school girl

crime | Jan 29, 2014 | By Martin Barillas

Monica Lindsey, a school bus driver in Detroit, had a day that she will not soon forget. It was on the morning of January 27 that Lindsey dropped off her eight-year-old daughter at the J.R. King Elementary School on the west side of the city. When she waved goodbye to the school girl, Lindsey saw her nearly disappear into a sinkhole on the school property. Lindsey said “she fell in the hole!”, and saw that her daughter was up to her neck in freezing water. “Mama, help!” cried the girl.

Getting into action, Lindsey rushed to her daughter’s aid. "She was standing there waving and she just dropped to the ground! And when I looked all you [saw] was her head and her hand [waving]. And she's like, 'Mama help! Mama help!'  And I ran over there and I about lost my heart trying to get my baby out of that hole, and it hurt my heart so bad. And then after that, the other little boy came and fell right in," Lindsey told a local FOX television station.

Offering thanks, Lindsey said of the rescue, “It was God, that’s all I can say. It was God…I wasn’t supposed to be there.”

Shaken by the ordeal, Lindsey told reporters that school officials said they were not aware of the “new” sinkhole on school grounds. Detroit, as is much of Michigan, is blanketed with snow and enduring record cold temperatures. “There’s, like, three sinkholes by the school!” The cold temperatures have been a challenge for school administrators and city officials in Detroit. Water main breaks, snow plowing delays, and lost days of work have hampered official response to one of the coldest winters in memory. Lindsey confirmed that are “waterline breaks everywhere.”

The city of Detroit is sending municipal workers to repair the sinkholes, which can develop rapidly when a waterline breaks and carves out the surrounding soil. Lindsey said of the ordeal, “I was angry. I had sweat, tears, and all I could think about was my daughter drowning in this hole right in front of my eyes!” Lindsey's daughter was taken for observation at a local hospital.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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