Girl falls in septic tank at Chico church

A 6-year-old girl fell inside a septic tank at Aldersgate United Methodist Church on Friday.

Posted: May 26, 2019 5:54 PM
Updated: May 27, 2019 12:02 PM

CHICO, Calif. - A Chico mother said her family is traumatized after her daughter fell inside a septic tank at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church playground Friday.

Serina Gonzales, a mother of six, was attending a meeting at the church when her 6-year-old daughter, Juliana, was playing outside. 

"She was playing on a playground at the church when she jumped from a play structure and landed on the lid of a septic tank," Gonzales said. 

Juliana fell through the tank and quickly became submerged in sewage and had to be rescued.

Nyla Coleman, who was supervising Juliana along with other several children who were playing, acted immediately. She laid flat on her stomach, reaching for Juliana and was unsuccessful. Another girl, who was also present, was able to grab hold of Juliana. 

"So when she pulled her up, I got her other hand and just pulled her out," Coleman said.  

Gonzales went to the bathroom to find her daughter covered with waste and immediately took Juliana's clothes off.

"She smelled horrible, there was all sorts of [feces] and waste all up in her hair," Gonzales said. 

Action News Now spoke with the pastor of the Aldersgate United Methodist, J. Scott Allred, about the placement and sturdiness of the septic lid. 

"I’ve been here since 2011, that septic tank has been in the same location as the bumblebee and nobody has fallen through, and so I wouldn’t think it was bad replaced because this has never happened before," Allred said. "They had an 8,000-pound capacity on it obviously that capacity wasn’t there anymore."

Allred said he has no knowledge if the septic tank is regularly inspected or how to check it. 

"We have insurance, that’s what we pay insurance for, sorry the little girl was injured," Allred said. 

Now, Gonzales hopes to move forward from the accident.

"I could’ve been planning a funeral for my child who could’ve passed away from being covered in poop," Gonzales said. "[I'm] hoping and praying for a 100 percent recovery from the trauma she had to experience."

The septic tank, which is on the backside of the church, has since been blocked off with caution tape and covered with a wooden board. 

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