Former Prince George's Co. inspections employee says unsafe behavior led to girl's electrocution

A whistleblower is speaking out about an unsafe culture the person witnessed while employed with Prince George's County's Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement, which they believe contributed to the June electrocution at MGM National Harbor.

The whistleblower, who is speaking anonymously for fear that their involvement may impact a new position, alleges an unmanageable workload and reckless culture likely contributed to the mistakes that caused the electrocution.

Six-year-old Zynae Green was shocked and critically injured when she touched lighted hand railing on the property's Potomac Plaza on June 26.

Public records obtained by FOX 5 show that the preliminary investigation two days after the incident blamed a malfunctioning piece of equipment that was supposed to limit the amount of electricity running to the lights. That equipment failed, along with wiring that chafed and came into contact with the metal, sending 120 volts of electricity to the rail.

The whistleblower alleges there was especially a culture of cutting corners while inspectors were working on the construction at MGM National Harbor.

"The mandate went out. This place needs to open. It was behind schedule and over budget. They knew it would be an ATM for the county, which it is, and it needs to get open no matter what," the worker said.

The former employee also alleges that MGM and the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement would keep inspectors who were too aggressive off the job.

"If you went down there and you found too much wrong, you were thrown off that site and you were not allowed to be down there," said the worker.

MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in a statement to FOX 5, "MGM hires licensed, reputable, respected construction and inspection companies to perform work that meets or exceeds state and local building codes. We do not compromise safety when constructing our facilities. We have very high standards and expect those working for us to uphold those standards."

But the former Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement employee and two other sources familiar with the agency allege that many department inspectors are underqualified and overworked. In some instances, the former employee said inspectors were assigned nearly 50 building or home inspections in an eight-hour day.

Asked about what the whistleblower would say to Green's family, the worker said, "It was 100 percent avoidable. This was no accident. Their loved one is going through a lot of pain and suffering because someone wanted to make a buck which I think is despicable."

The Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement said in a statement to FOX 5, "DPIE is committed to protecting the safety of county residents, businesses, and visitors through an effective permitting and inspection process. Each day, the men and women of this department work to fulfill this mission and we expect our staff to feel empowered and to speak up when the safety of others is compromised."

Prince George's County police have an active investigation into the electrocution.

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