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Published: Saturday, 7/31/2004

Mower overturns injuring teen-ager

OAK HARBOR, Ohio - A 14-year-old girl was injured when a lawn tractor she was operating outside the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station slid into a pond and overturned on top of her, authorities said yesterday.

Carroll Township police Chief Lionel Mason said the girl, whom he would not identify, was mowing grass on the plant grounds about 11 a.m. Thursday when the incident occurred.

Richard Wilkins, a spokesman for FirstEnergy, which operates Davis-Besse, said the girl was working near a training building on the northeast part of the plant site when an employee noticed the mower in "knee deep to waist deep" water and called for help. "We had a couple of employees who did pull her out of the water and did perform CPR," Mr. Wilkins said.

Chief Mason said the girl was under the water for at least three minutes. She was taken by helicopter to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. Information about her condition was unavailable.

Mr. Wilkins said the girl had been working for Erie Mowing, a contractor hired by FirstEnergy to cut the grass around Davis-Besse. A phone call to the company was not returned.

Chad Positano, a duty officer for the Toledo office of the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration, said yesterday the agency had been unaware of the incident but would look into it. Dale Stylinski, an investigator for the U.S. Labor Department's Wage & Hour Division in Cincinnati, said the use of someone under 16 to operate the mower could be a violation of federal and state labor laws.

"A 14 or 15-year-old can do maintenance of grounds, but it has to be cleanup work," Mr. Stylinski said. "It can't include use of any power-driven mowers."

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