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Questions remain after child's electrocution

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ADDIS - While relatives are still recovering from the death of a one-year-old girl who was electrocuted Monday after touching exposed wires at an apartment complex, people in the complex are asking questions about who should be held responsible.

The West Baton Rouge Coroner's Office said one-year-old Kristiana Tillman was playing outside at the D'Iberville Townhomes in Addis with other kids when she touched the exposed wires of an air conditioning unit. The coroner said the only injury they found on her body was a small burn on the child's finger, and while the autopsy is still ongoing all evidence points to electrocution as the cause of death.

Shawanda Lee spoke to News 2 about losing her only child Monday, fighting back emotions as she recalled what happened.

"She was a lovely little girl," Lee said. "She was very active... she loved everybody."

Investigators said Tillman's mother was inside sleeping and had relatives watching the little girl around 4 p.m. Monday afternoon. Investigators said the adults went inside, which is when they believe Kristiana may have gone for exposed wires on an air conditioning unit. 

"I couldn't tell exactly which one she touched, but it was pretty obvious," said West Baton Rouge Coroner Chief Investigator Yancy Guerin. "The ground was wet, the baby was barefooted, that's not a good combination."

Guerin said when he reached the scene, the only person that was able to help him was a five-year-old child.

"When I got here, I was initially told the baby was found out here in the yard, and I asked to speak to who found the child and it was a little five-year-old," Guerin told News 2. "I said 'Can you tell me where you found the child,' and he didn't point to the yard he pointed next to the air conditioning unit."

Addis Police have not returned phone calls to ask whether they will file any charges in Tillman's death. Many residents at the complex said they feel the apartment's owners or managers should be held responsible for not covering up wires.

"I called the property management," said Guerin. "I disconnected the electricity and had everyone stay away from it. Property manager came out, apparently they feel like they may have repaired the situation."

Latter and Blum, the property management company in charge of the complex, sent out a statement Tuesday evening which said their maintenance records showed the AC unit in question was intact the Friday before Tillman's death. The company said they would "aggressively" investigate how the wires came to be exposed.

The girl's family asked any donations to help cover funeral expenses be made by calling (225) 394-2052.


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