A Wisconsin boy was rescued from a storm sewer Tuesday after an eagle-eyed firefighter saw the child’s finger poking out of the manhole cover following severe weather in the area.
The 11-year-old boy was playing with his friends in a flooded drainage ditch in the Village of Harrison after heavy rain passed through the area around 6 p.m. The boy, who was not identified, got swept under the water and didn’t resurface.
Rescuers arrived at the scene and found a bystander attempting to hold on to the boy — but it was no match for the raging water. The boy was swept into a culvert that led to the storm sewer.
Rescuers were then forced to predict where the boy may be flowing through the sewer system. Deputy Fire Chief Wesley Pompa, one of the people who responded to the scene, called the village road superintendent, Bob Kesler, to help map out the system.
At one point, they were standing above a manhole about 30 feet from the ditch when Pompa spotted fingers poking through an opening in the cover.
"He was hollering and talking to us and he was able to reach up for us," Pompa said.
The boy had found air pocket just beneath the manhole cover and was hanging onto a ladder leading up to the manhole. The firefighters pried the cover open and Pompa and Kesler lifted the boy to safety.
The child, who was alert and conscious, was taken to the hospital.
"I just thank God he was alive and he'd made it that long," Pompa said. "It could have gone a million different ways but this one way it worked out for him."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.