Child dies after falling in septic tank

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

SAFFORD, Ariz. -- A seven-year-old boy has died after falling into an open septic tank near Safford on Friday.

The victim was identified as Isaiah Orr. A witness reported seeing Orr and another younger, child playing near the system, which services the Tower Mobile Home Park.

A large board had previously covered the system opening but the board had been removed, exposing the system opening. The witness, an elderly man, reported first seeing Orr kick something into the hole, then either falling or jumping into the system.

The witness said he could hear the child but not see him, so he contacted the child’s mother, who called 911.

The Graham County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene at 9:05 a.m. and the deputy entered the septic system to begin searching for the child. While the deputy found Orr’s shoes, he was unable to locate the child.

Safford Fire Department personnel then arrived on the scene and, after helping the deputy exit the septic system, were able to locate and extricate Orr. CPR was immediately initiated.

“During CPR in the ambulance, they got somewhat of a pulse,” said GCSO Lt. Jerry Nelson. “The child was rushed to (Mt. Graham) Hospital, where they worked to stabilize him. Once they got another pulse, he was flown to UMC (in Tucson) and put on life support.”

Nelson said witnesses estimated that Orr had been in the septic system about 10 minutes before the deputy’s arrival. On Saturday, Orr was removed from life support and was pronounced deceased.

An autopsy by the Pima County Medical Examiner has been ordered and investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The three first responders that entered the septic system — the deputy and two firefighters — were also transported to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center to be treated for exposure and decontamination. All three were treated and released.

Graham County Health Department Director Neil Karnes said he doesn’t know why the trailer park’s septic system was exposed, and his office is investigating the circumstance surrounding the septic system.

“We didn’t have any pending complaints or pending permits for repair,” Karnes said. “We would never issue the permit if it was planned to be left open.”

A fund has been set up to help the family with medical and funeral expenses. Donations may be made in person by depositing to the Isaiah Orr Memorial Fund at Arizona State Credit Union on Main Street in Safford; or donations may be online at