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Anger follows death of worker at wastewater treatment plant

Victim's co-workers cite unsafe conditions
Posted at 6:05 PM, Jun 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-08 10:57:16-04

BALTIMORE — Her co-workers filed out of the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant to remember Trina Cunningham, whose life was cut short when she fell into a water filtration system on Monday.

"One of our own You've chosen to take with you, Lord," said Jeannette Smith-Dixon as she offered a prayer at a vigil for her co-worker.

But prayers gave way to grief as Cunningham's brother, Trent, spoke of the call he received notifying him that she was missing at the same plant where she had helped get him a job.

"The worst thing I had to do was explain to my mother and her wife what was going on, because it wasn't about a rescue,” said the victim’s brother. “It was about a recovery, because I know the dangers of working in that building, and she was found three hours later all the way 700 and some yards from here."

Fire officials say Cunningham was reported missing after she disappeared at the plant and her walkie talkie and a glove were found next to a catwalk with a grate missing.

The city has pledged to take action.

"Every facility, every catwalk, every tank will be inspected to make sure that they are safe," said Department of Public Works Spokesman Jeff Raymond on the night of the accident.

But co-workers say past grievances have fallen on deaf ears.

"This ain't the first time the catwalk had given way,” said Anthony Hill, a Loxcal 44 union representative. “We had two other employees, but luckily it was in a different part of the plant where they could be reached. In this situation, she dropped 20 feet down and was just washed away."

Now, in addition to the prayers...

"We thank you for the legacy she's leaving behind."

There are hopes that her legacy may save her colleagues from suffering a similar fate.

"She fell in this building and landed on the other side of that wall, and my thing is, I just don't want to see nobody ever go through that again," said Trent Cunningham.