Austin considers fencing safety changes after tragic death of Georgetown toddler

Local

AUSTIN (KXAN) —A Georgetown family is hoping its tragedy will educate others on the dangers of exposed picket fencing.

“He wanted to investigate and see what was going on in the world,” said Julie Damian.

Her son Kade died in 2018 when his head got stuck in an exposed picket fence.

“My husband found him very quickly because we were all outside when it happened,” she said.

The Damians are hoping to educate others about the dangers of exposed picket fences by sharing their tragic story. They want to see more flat top fencing being installed around the city, and by people in the community.

“We want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Damian.

The Damian’s story has the City of Austin looking into making changes. City officials discussed the matter last week at the Building and Fire Code Board Appeals meeting.

“We are in the beginning stages of looking at what the changes need to be,” said Beth Culver, of the City’s Development Services Department. “Some of the considerations are the height of the fence, climb-ability, picket spacing, security.”

The proposed change reads: “a fence design with potential climbable features shall not be designed with entrapment and/or impalement features protruding from the top of the fence.”

Culver says the new requirements would not be retroactive unless you are replacing more than half of your fence. If that’s the case, you would have to apply it to the existing fence.

The city says there’s support for moving forward with these changes, but it’s still a long process ahead. There will be community input, committee meetings and ultimately, consideration by council members.

“When people say, ‘Oh they must be bad parents,’ or ‘Where were they?’ or ‘What were they doing?,’ I know the truth,” said Damian.

“And it could happen to anybody.”

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