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Summit County health officials inspect bathroom where child was hurt by a dirty needle left on changing table

A health inspector found several violations at the gas station nearly a week after the incident happened.
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 7:54 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Summit County health officials went out to an Akron gas station to follow up after a toddler was pricked by a dirty needle on April 9th.

It wasn’t until 19 Investigates called the health department last week that it sent an inspector out.

The toddler’s mother says she told the gas station employees what happened immediately after her son got hurt.

Yet days later, we found the table dirty and so did the inspector from the health department.

Hannah Jett was chaning her son Deacon’s diaper when she says he found the needle in a compartment of the table. They were at the Speedway on Exchange Street, near Akron University’s football stadium.

This toddler got pricked by a dirty and potentially dangerous needle left in a public Northeast Ohio bathroom. His mother was changing his diaper when it happened. She’s got a message for other parents, and she’s concerned that law enforcement and health officials are not taking what happened seriously.

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Tuesday, April 19, 2022

When we first reached out, the summit county health department said it didn’t send an inspector to follow up, because it didn’t have a record that Jett had called.

Jett showed us her phone records, saying surely she did make the call on April 11th.

“They weren’t very interested. They just said they would make a note.”

She also called Akron Police. She said she was told to come down to the station to file a report. However, when she got there, the officer on duty wouldn’t take a report from her, because the incident “wasn’t a police matter.”

She wondered-- is bathroom drug use just so common that incidents like hers are being overlooked?

A spokesperson for the police department told us “We have no prior calls for drug activity in the restroom related to needles… We do have many calls for intoxicated/drugs in the parking.”

For years, police have warned in the passed that drug users often shoot up wherever they make their purchase.

According to a call log including data from the last year, police are called to the gas station frequently—one person told officers they saw needles on a woman who was begging people at the pumps for money.

19 Investigates went by to check out the scene for ourselves.

We found burnt looking black crumbles on the changing table, and in the compartment where Jett believes that needle was sitting when her son grabbed it.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Speedway told us it was “deeply concerned” about what happened and was in touch with Jett.

According to the health department report though, some of the debris we saw was still present when the inspector went to the gas station on Friday.

The inspector writes that while the table itself was clean, “some small debris could be seen in the crevasse.”

It’s unclear what this is, or if it is indeed drug related, but the inspector told employees the “changing table should be taken apart to remove any debris.” She suggested it be checked with “a set frequency,” possibly even once each hour.

Speedway isn’t required by law to have what they call a SHARPS container for used needles... but the inspector recommended one be put here along with disinfectant wipes near the changing table.

We reached back out to Speedway after we got the recent inspection report to ask if they would consider adding the things the inspector suggested. We didn’t hear anything back.

The health department’s Director of Environmental Health, Tonia Burford, tells 19 Investigates that she looked into what happened when Jett called last week and why an inspector wasn’t sent out right away.

Jett says she doesn’t recall having a bad connection or being asked to repeat herself.

“That makes me so frustrated,” she said in a message when we told her about the health department’s reply. “It’s almost like they’re trying to spin it all on me? I literally told them the speedway on Exchange and Brown street when I was on the phone with them the first time. So, that’s a lie of them trying to cover themselves. The call was not “dropped”, they said “okay I’ll take note of it.” They didn’t ask me for additional information and ended the call.”

A spokesperson from the police department also followed up with 19 Investigates Tuesday.

While a spokesperson says he does not know why the officer opted not to take a report from Jett when she went to the station, he said he would arrange for an officer to call her. He said the officer could gather information over the phone and generate a report for her.

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