Girl who was electrocuted ‘was going to be somebody’

Holly Fournier, and Candice Williams

Detroit — The day after her 12-year-old daughter was electrocuted by an electrical wire, one thought ran through Tamika Robinson’s mind.

“My child is not coming home,” she said Thursday.

K'brianna Griffin

K’brianna Griffin was killed Wednesday night after an inactive city power line became “energized” when it fell across a live DTE Energy wire, officials said.

“Everybody in the neighborhood is impacted,” Robinson said, sitting in the kitchen of her west-side Detroit home, four blocks from the accident.

“A lot of older people over here really gravitated toward her. She would always ask them, ‘Do you need some help?’ ”

K’brianna was playing in her friend’s yard about four blocks from her home around 8 p.m. Wednesday on the 16700 block of St. Marys near Greenfield and West McNichols when she came in contact with the downed wire, according to officials.

The girl died at the scene, according to the Medical Examiner. Her death was ruled an accidental electrocution.

“I don’t know what kind of contact was made with the line, but she did come into contact with the downed wire and was electrocuted,” Detroit police Officer Jennifer Moreno said.

Officials with DTE and the Detroit Public Lighting Department on Thursday said lines from both departments appeared to be involved in the death. It was not clear when the inactive line fell.

“Our initial investigation indicates that an out-of-service Public Lighting Department wire fell and crossed over a live DTE wire, which effectively energized the PLD line that the young girl came into contact with,” officials said in a joint statement. “We are committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Our hearts go out to the family of this young girl during this very difficult time.”

“We are deeply concerned about the circumstances of this tragedy and are continuing to investigate every aspect of this incident to determine exactly what happened from the time a problem was first reported,” officials said in the statement.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Mayor Mike Duggan , called the death an “avoidable tragedy.”

“I don’t have enough information to place the blame right now, but it’s a terrible tragedy that never should have happened. It was preventable,” he said. “We’re going to investigate it. We’re going to find out the truth and we’ll deal with it.”

Duggan said Detroit stopped using lines all across the city 20 years ago but didn’t take them down.

“They were not a risk to anybody at the time,” he said.

The city’s statement did not address when the wire is believed to have fallen, but the girl’s death came after weeks of reports of downed wires in the area, according to police.

“The report does state that there were downed wires reported within the past two to three weeks,” Moreno said.

DTE spokeswoman Stephanie Beres initially said Wednesday night that her company’s “investigation has revealed that the wire in question is the city’s Public Lighting Department equipment.”

On Thursday, friends and family gathered at Robinson’s home to offer their support.

K’brianna’s godfather, David Newberry, said she was the type of child who never gave up on trying something new.

“She wanted to learn how to do it,” Newberry said. “She was a chance-taker.”

Robinson, who has five other children, said K’brianna was the life of the party and loved people. She would walk a neighbor’s dog and had plans to become a veterinarian.

“She was going to be somebody,” Robinson said, crying. “She didn’t get a chance.”

HFournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

Twitter: @HollyPFournier

Staff writers Charles E. Ramirez and Christine Ferretti contributed.