Family retains lawyer after electrocution -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Family retains lawyer after electrocution


The death of a student in a fountain at South Georgia Technical College in Americus is bringing legal action from the teen's family.

The student's mother says this is not the first time someone was shocked in that fountain.

Nearly a month after the death, the grieving mom says she still can't get answers about what happened.

Lillie Rhine said no one from South Georgia Tech has explained why her daughter died when she stepped into the school's fountain in September. But she says she has learned another student was shocked in that same fountain last year.  

Lillie Rhine is left to care for 2-year-old Zi'Quan, after his mother, Adriana Rhine, died September 27th in the fountain at South Georgia Technical College.

But Lillie says her questions about her daughter's death are still unanswered. "I really haven't been told the story yet. Just hearing from what different people say. That the baby's ball rolled into the fountain and she went in after it, and fell."

Her attorney says his investigation has found Rhine's death was preventable.

 "We know that it was not a drowning. We know it was an electrocution. Because some of the ones who rescued her or attempted to were electrocuted, or rather shocked," said Attorney Yehuda Smolar.

And Smolar says the most significant fact his investigation has found was August 15, 2011 another student, Ashley Bentley of Montezuma, was shocked in that same fountain.

"It's no accident. If that happened to somebody else a year ago and it turn around and happen to Adriana, that's no accident," Rhine said.

Smolar has notified state's agencies of the families intention to file suit, to get answers.

"We don't know if it was a faulty design. We believe it was obviously faulty maintenance. If it happened a year before, and it happened again, the conclusion is clear that it wasn't dealt with," Smolar said.

South Georgia Technical College officials said in a statement today: "This incident is currently under investigation by the Sumter County Sheriff's Department and South Georgia Technical College is unable to comment at this time."

Rhine's attorney said when they finish their investigation they will file suit to make sure this fountain is dealt with.

 "That it doesn't happen to anyone ever again. And that nobody else sends a child to school to receive a call that they are never coming back," Smolar said.

Lillie Rhine said Quan has asked about his mother, and she will file suit to be able to answer his questions.  

The Rhine's attorney says maintenance of the fountain is of course an issue, but their investigation is also looking into the fountain design and the equipment used. So there may be others besides the state named in their lawsuit.

Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith says the GBI Crime Lab has not filed a final autopsy report and has not released Rhine's cause of death.

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