UPDATE: Jesse Hernandez has now spoken to the press about his ordeal.
While Jesse was playing in an abandoned building at a family picnic, he stepped on a rotted piece of wood and fell 25 feet into a sewer pipe.
“I was just praying to God to be found,” said Jesse. “I didn’t want to die.”
The type of pipe that he fell into is a pipe system that runs parallel with the Los Angeles River. The pipes are 4 feet in diameter and are filled to about a 2-foot depth.
“I fell into a tunnel-type thing and I slided,” said Jesse.
The sewage in the pipes flows at a quick pace of up to 15 miles per hour. The slick and gooey sides of the pipe combined with the fast current meant that Jesse was carried for quite some distance in the sewer.
During his ordeal, he had both positive and negative thoughts about his chances of surviving. Sometimes he felt that help was on the way soon, and others he thought he was going to die.
One of the rescue cameras spotted handprints on the side of one pipe system, they knew they were looking in the right place. Jesse said he put the hand marks on the pipes “so they could track me down.”
When rescuers opened a maintenance hatch to drop more cameras, they saw Jesse wedged at the bottom. “When I first saw them I screamed ‘help,’” he said. “I called my mom to pick me up and she was all happy and crying.”
The original story is posted below:
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.”
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.”
LAFD Captain Erik Scott says it is a miracle that he was found alive. “We maintained hope, we maintained intensity and we did not give up,” he said. “But I’ll be honest, we did not think we would find a viable patient.”
In related news, a US Army soldier that went missing last week was recently found. Read the full story in the next article below.