Boy survives trip through drainage pipe

Published: Aug. 29, 2018 at 5:05 PM CDT
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People in a Town of Harrison neighborhood are convinced they saw a miracle Tuesday night. After an agonizing 40 minutes, an 11-year-old boy, swept away in flood waters, was found alive.

"I'm calling because there's a kid that we think got sucked down a drain by a construction site."

That 911 call from Tuesday night set off rescue operations in a new development off of Dusty Drive in the Town of Harrison. An 11-year-old boy, playing with the caller's sons, had been sucked into a drainage pipe.

The call continued, "He put his goggles on to go underwater to see what was there, and he didn't come back up."

The Calumet County Sheriff's Office, its dive team, as well as Harrison Fire Rescue responded. Dozens of people searched the area in less than ideal conditions.

"When our officers arrived, there was at least three feet of water across the roadway that they had to wade through to get to this area, and it was still raining very, very hard at that time. Luckily the rain had stopped for a short period of time which allowed that water to dissipate off that roadway," says Lt. Mark Wiegert of the sheriff's office.

As the water cleared, Wes Pompa, deputy chief with Harrison Fire Rescue, happened to be in the right place at the right time.

"We were standing over top of a manhole cover, and I was looking down at the ground and a finger poked out, and that's when everything started going," says Pompa.

The boy had traveled about 30 feet through the drainage pipe, finding an air pocket to survive.

Pompa worked with others to pry open the manhole cover and rescue the boy.

Pompa added, "I pulled him out and I handed him off to the next guy who was standing there, and he was taken to the ambulance right away."

The boy's family declined to speak about what happened, still overcome with emotion.

Everyone is just glad the scary situation had a happy ending.

"This scenario could have played out a million different ways," said Pompa, "But this one way it turned out great."