Boy electrocuted at athletic complex
3 investigations will be held into death blamed on live wire at fence
A 12-year-old boy died Monday after being electrocuted when he touched a fence that had been electrified by a live wire at a Fleming Athletic Complex ball field near the Bernie Ward Community Center.
Melquan Kwame Robinson, of the 3400 block of Applejack Terrace, was at football practice at the Lumpkin Road complex when he went over a chain-link fence, according to Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen.
A live wire was reportedly touching the fence, and when Melquan grabbed the fence, he was electrocuted, Bowen said. Three other people were also injured in the incident.
Melquan was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia where he was pronounced dead at 9:56 p.m. His body will be taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab for an autopsy Tuesday.
Don Clark, a Robinson family friend and Melquan’s former coach, said the child’s parents are trying to go through the grieving process. Melquan was their firstborn and one of three children.
“They’re definitely upset over the fact of how could this happen, with the fact that there were so many children,” Clark said. “You can play the what ifs in many different scenarios and it will never get any better. The fact that this situation happened with so many kids out here, it’s heartbreaking.”
Clark said Melquan was very protective of his siblings and loved his family, which makes the situation that much tougher. Clark feels that it might be hard for his siblings to deal with the loss of their brother because of how young they are.
According to a statement from the city of Augusta, which owns and operates the community center and athletic complex, three other people were injured in the accident. Two were juveniles and the other was an adult, according to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all involved in this accident,” Mayor Hardie Davis said in a statement. “We ask Augustans to stand together to extend our condolences and embrace the family of Melquan Kwame Robinson with love during this sudden and unexpected loss.”
Clark praised the courage shown by the two other children who were injured trying to save their friend. Their conditions were not available Tuesday night.
“The friends, the way they responded, what motivates a young boy that young to jump into action and help their friend out,” Clark said. “Those are the two young boys that are in the hospital right now because they were trying to help out a friend.”
Clark said he will remember Melquan’s smile. Melquan was energetic, very athletic and very passionate about playing football and sports, according to Clark. He said Melquan wanted to be a professional athlete when he grew up.
Melquan was a member of the Trinity Elite Titans football team, which issued a statement on Facebook: “Good morning everyone, this is a sad moment for our Trinity Elite Titans family……we are still in disbelief. We are sending our prayers and love out to the family of our football player, #MelquanKwameRobinson#, who has gone to rest with the Lord. One solider gone too soon………you will be truly missed!!!!”
Although the family is grieving, Clark wanted to remind people that this is affecting friends, teammates and coaches of Melquan. He hopes the city and the community are able to come together for the family and friends.
“This is exactly one of those tests, that as a city and a community, we all need to stand up and move forward toward the challenge,” Clark said.
According to a sheriff’s office report, a deputy who responded to the scene performed chest compression on Melquan about 9 p.m. Another deputy stated in the report that he was told the child had been electrocuted by the outfield fence. After a few rounds of chest compressions, Melquan coughed and was turned to his left side. A deputy checked his pulse but none was found, and chest compressions were continued, the report states.
A Gold Cross ambulance unit arrived about 9:16 p.m. and loaded Melquan onto a stretcher. Another ambulance arrived to transport a second victim, according to the incident report, which stated that the child was with Melquan and was injured when he tried to pull his friend down from the fence.
A third victim told deputies that he and Melquan were throwing a football and it went over the fence. Melquan climbed the fence to get the ball and when he came back over, he was electrocuted, the incident report states. He tried to pull Melquan from the fence and he too was injured, according to the incident report.
Bowen said his office, the sheriff’s office and the city will each conduct investigations. Bowen will primarily focus on the death, while the city will look into how the live electrical wire happened.
Georgia Power released a statement saying it will work with local officials as they conduct the investigation.
“Georgia Power’s condolences and sympathies are with the individuals and their families following last night’s tragic event at Fleming Athletic Complex,” the statement says. “Our preliminary investigation indicates that Georgia Power does not control or maintain the voltage that energized the fences at the complex.”
Melquan was a seventh-grader at Morgan Road Middle School, according to Kaden Jacobs, the Richmond County school system’s director of communications.
“Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time,” Jacobs said. “We have provided additional support to Morgan Road Middle School for students and staff.”
All football activities have been canceled for the rest of the week at Fleming Park, according to a spokesperson for the complex.
Clark said more details will be provided in the future on how the community can help.
“We lost a future leader,” he said. “We lost a future athlete. We lost a child in our city.”
A vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at Bernie Ward Community Center.
Staff writers Amanda King and David Lee contributed to this article.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Melquan Memorial Fund at www.gofundme.com/melquan-robinson-jr-memorial-fund.