News Feature | April 5, 2018

Teen Found In Drainage Pipe After Fall

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Water workers came to the rescue of a Los Angeles teen after he fell into sewage system on Easter Sunday.

“A frantic, overnight search for Jesse Hernandez — the 13-year-old boy who plunged into a vast network of city sewer tunnels beneath Griffith Park — ended happily Monday morning after sanitation workers removed a manhole cover and spotted the boy peering back at them,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

Hernandez was in the sewer system for 12 hours before his rescuers arrived, according to CBS News Los Angeles. “I was thinking, ‘I’m going to die,’” he said, adding that he feared he would never see his parents again.

Hernandez was found in a 4-foot sewage pipe in a maintenance hatch, the report said. He was playing in an abandoned concrete building when he fell into an old vent opening.

“I was playing, and I didn’t see that it was a little piece of wood, and I stepped on it, and I just fell down — the current took me,” Hernandez told CBS News.

Technology within the sewer system aided the rescue mission.

“Images on a feed from a closed-circuit camera inside a sewer pipe offered a glimmer of hope early Monday for teams searching for a 13-year-old boy who fell into an underground pipe more than 12 hours earlier,” NBC Los Angeles reported.

“The video from a camera floating inside the Los Angeles sewer system appeared to show hand prints. Sanitation crew members were immediately sent to the location near the 134 Freeway, about a mile from the site near Travel Town in Griffith Park where...Hernandez fell,” the report said.

Hernandez said he fell pretty far before stopping himself as the pipe narrowed.

“He was hit with untreated sewage water for hours. Hernandez said he dropped a cell phone he was carrying at the time,” CBS News stated.

Hernandez was slightly scratched and bruised after the rescue. He went to the hospital, where he was soon released to go home.

“It felt more like 20 hours, just waiting, waiting, no answers,” Hernandez’s stepfather Arturo Ramirez told CBS News. “The more you wait, the more you think other stuff.”