Teen survives 'miraculous' 12 hours in Los Angeles sewage system

A 13-year-old boy who fell into a sewer pipe during a family Easter celebration at Los Angeles' Griffith Park has been found alive after a methodical 12-hour search of the complex drainage system.

The Los Angeles Times reports Jesse Hernandez was at Griffith Park on Sunday afternoon where he and his cousins were jumping on wooden planks in an abandoned maintenance building.

The boy was given a cell phone to call his family after he was plucked from danger, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

A 13-year-old boy that fell 7.5 metres into a drain has been found alive and well after a 13-hour search. The system includes water from the Los Angeles River but can also trap gases, making the search unsafe for rescue teams.

A child who had been missing for at least half a day after falling into a unsafe part of the Los Angeles drainage system was found alive early Monday morning, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Cameras were used to look into the pipes, where the boy was located.

First responders provided immediate medical care and decontamination, and the teen was then taken to a local hospital for a complete medical evaluation.

The team mounted a camera on a flotation device that was tethered to a rope and extended 300 feet down a pipe.

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About 2,400 feet (731 meters) of pipe had been inspected when rescuers found Jesse less than a mile from where he disappeared.

Rescuers finally found Jesse after seeing images of handprints on a sewage pipe.

"It appears he was trying to get out", said LA Sanitation Department Assistant Director Adel Hagekhalil. "The Mayor's Crisis Response Team was also at the command post throughout the night providing welcomed support to the family".

LAFD spokesperson Erik Scott told the station the "specialized closed-circuit TV cameras that have lights on them - we place them on pontoons to float through this pipe system".

The Los Angeles Fire Department did not respond to Newsweek's request for further comment in time for publication.

The pipes are four feet in diameter with varying depths of water moving at approximately 15 miles per hour, the department added. The cameras can be attached to pontoons and crawl through the pipes.

The fire department was assisted by the LAPD, the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks, Park Rangers, the Department of Water and Power and the Department of Sanitation.

  • Megan Austin