Last night’s Fourth festivities took a frightening turn for a local family, leading to a daring rescue. Luckily for the family, their five-year-old boy was rescued after hours of hard work by local firefighters.
It looks innocent enough: a concrete slab with a manhole cover and a cement brick on top. But underneath, a thirty foot hole that a small child found himself in the night of the Fourth.
A welder working in the hot sun, contracted by the owners of this industrial pipe.
“They sent me down to put four perpendicular 70-18 stick weld stitches on it,” said Michael Bayer, making sure now that it remains safe.
“There’s no chance of it coming off or slipping off. It’s not going anywhere,” he added.
A marker for the parents of the five-year old child, and an effort by the owners to make sure that no one else should go through what they had to here.
“They found that this was actually an old well casing that had been left by the previous owner of the property from years ago. The lid that was on top of the well casing somehow got move or fell or tipped out of the way, which allowed the child to fall into the actual pipe itself,” explained Chief Mike Larson with Evansville Fire Department.
Firefighters arrived at the parking lot near Fulton Avenue and the Lloyd Expressway where the family was enjoying the Fourth of July festivities.
“There’s a little bit of a view from the riverfront from here. So they were gathered here to watch the fireworks,” Larson added.
But when first responders arrived, they had more challenges than just fitting themselves and their equipment inside the 16-inch hole.
“We had a little bit of a communication barrier. He was initially reported as a three-year-old. He was actually a five-year-old autistic child,” stated Larson.
Fortunately, after pitching idea after idea to get him out, Evansville police swung for the fences with rescue efforts fit for a kid.
They secured a swing from a nearby park, and having the child ride it like a horse to keep him from falling off.
The crews rescued him from waist deep-water without issue, and he was taken to the hospital for evaluation after firefighters worried about his ability to breathe so far down.
While this manhole cover shouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon again, the Evansville Fire Department is still advising everyone to keep a close eye on their surroundings.