A 13-year-old boy was found “alive and talking” Monday about a mile from the spot where he plunged 25 feet into a drainage ditch at Los Angeles’ Griffith Park on Sunday.
Jesse Hernandez was found Monday morning after a 12-hour frantic search involving more than 100 California firefighters. Authorities searched through the underground system of sewage pipes Los Angeles Police Sgt. Bruno La Hoz described as a “maze.” Cameras were used to look into the pipes, where the boy was located.
“Jesse was given a cell phone so he could immediately call family. Firefighter/Paramedics provided immediate medical care, decontamination and transport to a local hospital for a complete medical evaluation,” the Los Angeles Fire Department said Monday. “The Mayor's Crisis Response Team was also at the command post throughout the night providing welcomed support to the family.”
"We witnessed an incredible team effort by many public safety agencies," the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted after the boy was located.
Hernandez was with at least two family members, reportedly his cousins, around 4:30 p.m. Sunday when the wooden plank beneath the 13-year-old broke, causing him to fall into the 4-foot-wide pipe. The boys were playing in a maintenance shed above a ditch that feeds into the Los Angeles River, FOX11 LA reported.
"One was jumping on top of a wooden plank, perhaps not knowing that it led into a drainage pipe," Hoz told KTLA."The plank gave, the wood broke, and the kid fell right through it.”
The Hernandez family spends a day at Griffith Park as an Easter tradition, according to the Los Angeles Times. Authorities launched an immediate search for the boy — but couldn’t find him hours after the incident. Hoz described the sewage pipe system as a disorienting labyrinth.
"That place is a maze," Hoz said. "We don't know where the drain pipe goes to."
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman David Ortiz initially said rescuers couldn't enter the drainage area themselves because of the hazardous environment. “Closed circuit” cameras that could crawl along the pipe were used during the search.
Dominique Barraza, 16, a family friend, said she and other family members attempted to call the 13-year-old.
"We called, sent text messages — it rings but it goes to voicemail," Barraza said. "He's too young. It's just crazy. I still can't believe it."
Fox News' Edmund DeMarche and The Associated Press contributed to this report.