DTE: We warned Detroit about line that killed girl

Ed White
Associated Press

Detroit — Detroit’s lighting agency was alerted about two downed power lines — weeks before a 12-year-old girl was electrocuted in a friend’s yard in September, a utility said Friday.

DTE Energy said one of its employees noticed the lines July 27, marked the area with yellow caution tape and even went door-to-door to inform the neighborhood.

K’brianna Griffin was playing in a friend’s yard weeks later on Sept. 7 when she was electrocuted. One of the inactive lines that belonged to the city was on top of a live DTE wire and became energized.

“DTE was under the presumption that the hazard was being repaired or removed” by the city, the utility said in a report to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The girl’s death angered neighborhood residents, who said there were too many lines hidden in vegetation. At the time, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the electrocution was a “terrible tragedy that never should have happened.”

DTE provides power to Detroit residents, but street lights are maintained by the city.

In its report, the utility said it notified Detroit’s public lighting department about the lines. The service request was transferred to the city’s Public Lighting Authority, or PLA.

A PLA crew took pictures of the scene on July 27 but didn’t do anything with the downed lines, DTE said.

“PLA incorrectly noted in its own internal system that it was a DTE line,” the utility said.

PLA spokeswoman Kelsey Hartung said Friday there would be no comment “until we fully evaluate the report.”

The electrocution has brought changes. DTE said it is following up on repair jobs referred to the city. There were 559 “trouble jobs” from April through September, although not all were hazardous.