Jesse Hernandez was celebrating Easter with his family in Los Angeles when he went missing.
After nearly a 13 hour search, the 13-year-old was found alive at the bottom of a drainage pipe.
“A tremendous team effort over the past 12 hours resulted in the best outcome,” said the Los Angeles Fire Department. “Jesse Hernandez was found alive this morning. From start to finish, this was an unprecedented team effort.”
Investigators believe that the teen was playing in the area with other children when he fell through the roof of a 20-foot concrete building and into the drainage sewage system below.
City officials had to study several maps of the closed 6,400-foot sewage pipe system to try to find Jesse. They then sent a camera attached to a flotation device and sent it down a pipe.
“Approximately 2,400 feet of pipe had been thoroughly inspected and the search was continuing when a maintenance hatch was opened to insert cameras. This was where Jesse was found alert and talking,” said the fire department statement.
Rescuers handed Jesse a phone immediately so he could call his family to tell them he was safe and sound.
First responders gave him immediate medical care on site and then transported him to a local hospital for further evaluation.
“Picnicking in the Griffith Park area is an Easter tradition for the Hernandez family and consequently, over 20 family members were present,” said the fire department. “The Mayor’s Crisis Response Team is on scene helping to console and support family members.”
Since the sewage system was closed, the pipes are filled with mostly water runoff which can vary in depth and speed depending on a number of factors. At full capacity, the water can flow at speeds up to 15 miles per hour.
The LAFD has special equipment built for searching small confined spaces. According to the LAFD, they have “specialized closed-circuit TV cameras that have lights on them. We place them on pontoons to float through the pipe system. They have the capability to crawl along the bottom.”
In related news, a US Army soldier that went missing last week was recently found. Read the full story in the next article below.