FERNDALE, Mich. – The flagpole that broke in high winds and killed a kindergartner in April was rusted inside and out, according to a consultant's report.
The report from a Columbus, Ohio-based firm hired by the Ferndale School District to examine the accident was filed in May. The document was obtained by the Detroit Free Press and its findings were reported in a story Sunday.
Five-year-old Angel Pocock-Smith of the Detroit suburb of Oak Park was playing in the Roosevelt Primary School courtyard during recess April 16 when the steel pole fell.
The report by SEA Ltd. found the flagpole broke because two lamp arms clamped to its sides held water for years. That caused the corrosion to the pole, which is estimated to be at least 60 years old.
State and national experts say the accident and report suggest that tens of thousands of schools nationwide should check poles and posts, particularly if the poles are made of steel.
There is no state regulation requiring flagpole inspection, but several Michigan school districts have hired firms to inspect them following the accident in Ferndale.
Detroit-area attorney Bob Darling has been retained by Pocock-Smith's family and said he notified the district of his plans to file a civil lawsuit within a few weeks.
"It was rusted all over the place," Darling told the Free Press, adding officials "should have been put on notice of that the last time the pole was painted."
Ferndale school officials declined to comment, referring questions to attorney Suzanne Bartos. Bartos said the district has no records of the flagpole's installation or maintenance, and hired the consultant to determine the cause of the accident in preparation for a possible lawsuit.