2-year-old dies after falling into septic tank: Mom 'turned around and he was gone'

BURLINGTON, Wash. -- A 2-year-old boy is dead, after falling into a septic tank in Skagit County.

Sheriff’s deputies say they believe this was an accident, but it’s raising questions about safety.

“This should have never happened, never,” says Josh Fagan, who is angry and upset about what happened to his nephew, Orion.

He says his sister was in Burlington Monday morning, meeting some family members. She told him the boy was playing on the ground, while she put some storage items in her car.

“All of a sudden, it went silent. She didn't hear him anymore. She turned around and he was gone.”

Vanessa Ruiz lives nearby, and saw deputies arrive and start searching the area.

“The mom turned her back and then she didn't see her kid, so she was asking everyone around the block to look for her kid.”

“They didn't know if someone grabbed him or if he wandered around the corner,” says Fagan. “It was just instantly quiet. And they frantically started searching everywhere.”

After a few minutes, a deputy noticed the lid on this septic tank wasn’t sitting right. So he opened it up and looked inside.

“That’s when I saw the baby coming out,” says Ruiz. “It was just horrible seeing.”

The boy was rushed to the hospital, but he did not survive. Fagan wants to know why the septic tank was left open.

“How can such an unsafe condition be right here? There's a playground across the street, there's a field, there's 20 kids playing in the street.”

Ruiz agrees that it’s dangerous. She says she wasn’t even aware the tank was there.

“I honestly didn't know that until now. I told my little brother, I don't want you over there.”

“There shouldn't be a cover to a sewer that unsecure, never, nowhere,” adds Fagan. “Private property, public property, nowhere.”

The tank is in an area that used to be immigrant housing. It’s in the process of being turned into storage units, but no one lives there right now.

We asked sheriff's deputies if it was the property owner’s responsibility to secure these tanks. We were told that would be part of their investigation.