Thirteen-year-old boy in Los Angeles, California thanks city personnel for rescue from sewage pipe

Sunday, April 8, 2018

On Friday, thirteen-year-old boy Jesse Hernandez thanked city personnel at the city hall of Los Angeles, California for rescuing him from an underground city sewage pipe near Griffith Park in Los Angeles four days prior on Monday. The rescue was a result of a search and rescue operation on April 1 — Easter Sunday — that took over twelve hours after the boy fell into the sewage by accident.

Hernandez said, "I'm so thankful to everybody who was involved in my rescue. Because of them I'm back with my family. And God for giving me another chance to live."

On April 1, Hernandez and some friends went to play at an abandoned maintenance building. At around 4:30 PM local time, he fell through a wooden plank that broke, down about 25 feet (8 m) into the sewage, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. Adults, immediately told by other children, dialed emergency helpline number 9-1-1.

More than 100 people participated in the twelve-hour search-and-rescue effort. The city workers also used a video camera mounted to a floating device.

The environmentally toxic sewage was floating around fifteen miles per hour (about 24 kilometres per hour), and anyone falling into it had "slim" chance of surviving, Humphrey said, calling the result "miraculous".

City workers identified a search area for Hernandez's location consisting of 6,400 feet (about 2 kilometers) of pipes, 4 feet (1.2 metres) in diameter. After thoroughly inspecting about 2,500 feet (760 metres) of pipes, at around 4 am local time, they found handprints on sewers via the camera, helping rescuers identify the spot near the 134 [State] Freeway, about 1 mile (1.6 kilometres) from the abandoned building. When they went to the camera's location, the rescuers heard the boy screaming, "Help!"

The rescue workers lowered a hose 11 feet (3.4 metres) down into the pipe to Hernandez. The boy was treated by paramedics for decontamination, used a worker's cell phone to notify his parents he was rescued, and was transported to the hospital. The hospital released him by 11:15 AM, local time.

Later that week, city councilman David Ryu announced city plans to demolish, or secure, any abandoned maintenance buildings, including the one where Hernandez fell from, to avoid similar situations happening again.