The Korea Times
Teen survives 12 hours in Los Angeles sewage
— A 13-year-old boy was miraculously rescued Monday after falling into a river of sewage in Los Angeles, getting swept away and spending more than 12 hours in the city’s toxic and mazelike underground sewer system.
Jesse Hernandez had been playing with other children on wooden planks over an access portal to the sewer system during a family outing Sunday at a Los Angeles park. When a plank broke, Jesse fell about 25 feet (8 meters) and landed in fast-moving sewage, said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The other children immediately notified adults, who called 911, initiating a frantic and exhaustive 12-hour search of labyrinthine underground pipes using cameras propped on flotation devices.
Rescuers finally found Jesse after seeing images of handprints on a sewage pipe. A sanitation crew rushed to the area and opened a manhole.
“The first thing they heard was ‘Help!”’ said Adel Hagekhalil, assistant general manager of the sanitation department.
The crew lowered down a hose to Jesse, who was about 11 feet (3 meters) deep in the pipe.
“He caught onto the hose and was reeled back up,” Hagekhalil said.
Rescuers gave him immediate medical attention, including hosing him down to get rid of the sewage and cleaning out his eyes and nose with sterile saline, Humphrey said.
Jesse immediately asked for a cellphone to call his family. A worker handed him a phone, and he called his mom.
The boy later told KNBC-TV that he was tired and a bit scraped up, but otherwise OK.
“I was praying to God to help me and to not die,” Jesse said. “It was all quiet. You could just hear the water running through and you couldn’t see anything. It was dark.”
Video released by the city later in the day showed long dark marks on the sides of the dank sewage pipe, which was about 4 feet (1 meter) in diameter, where Jesse’s fingers would have slid.