House approves safety legislation after tragic grease trap drowning

Sadie Grace Andrews2

Following the tragic death of a little girl falling into a grease trap last year, the State House on Tuesday evening passed unanimously passed a bill that endeavors to prevent future such accidents.

Introduced by Auburn-Republican state Sen. Tom Whatley, SB258, the Sadie Grace Andrews Act requires food establishments to put locking or otherwise secure covers on grease traps. The bill passed the House by a vote of 99-0.

Whatley introduced the bill following the death of the bill’s namesake when she fell into a grease trap outside Bruster’s Ice Cream in Auburn, Ala. in October. Surveillance camera footage showed Sadie playing with two of her siblings when she fell through the lid into the 6-foot-deep tank. She was unresponsive when she was found a few minutes later and was unable to be revived.

“I think this bill will prevent another needless tragedy under these circumstances,” Whatley said when he introduced the bill.

The Sadie Grace Andrews Act cleared the Senate on Feb. 13. The bill now moves back to the upper chamber for a concurring vote before it heads to Gov. Kay Ivey‘s desk for review and to be signed into law.

Should the bill become law, food establishments will have no more than six months to comply with the requirements of the bill. Failing to comply will result in a $500 civil penalty to be assessed by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). Every day the violation is not corrected, it will result in an additional civil penalty. All moneys received from the penalties will be deposited in the State Treasury to the credit of the ADPH to be used for the administration and enforcement of the law.