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Boy Rescued After Falling into Los Angeles Sewage System


This image from video provided by the Los Angeles Fire Department shows firefighters working where a 13-year-old boy fell through through the small hole at right into a river of sewage in the Griffith Park area of Los Angeles. Jesse Hernandez was swept away Sunday, April 1, 2018, and spent more than 12 hours in the toxic environment of the sewer system before being rescued.
Boy Rescued After Falling into Los Angeles Sewage System
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This is What’s Trending Today…

California officials are praising workers for rescuing a 13-year-old boy who fell into a river of sewage in Los Angeles.

The boy, Jesse Hernandez, spent more than 12 hours in the city’s large underground sewage system. It is filled with refuse liquids and other waste materials, some of them poisonous.

Jesse had been playing at a public park with other children during a family gathering on Sunday. At one point, the children were on pieces of wood that covered an opening leading to the sewer system. One of the wooden planks broke.

The boy fell about eight meters down and landed in fast-moving sewage, said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The other children quickly told adults what had happened. The adults then called an emergency telephone line for help.

Rescuers immediately began searching for Jesse underground. They set cameras on floatation devices, which they put into the sewage system.

This photo from video provided by the Los Angeles Fire Department shows firefighters dropping a video camera down a large hole next to where a 13-year-old boy fell through through the small hole at right into a river of sewage in the Griffith Park area of
This photo from video provided by the Los Angeles Fire Department shows firefighters dropping a video camera down a large hole next to where a 13-year-old boy fell through through the small hole at right into a river of sewage in the Griffith Park area of

Rescuers finally found Jesse after seeing images of handprints on a pipe. A crew of sanitation workers hurried to the area and opened a manhole.

“The first thing they heard was ‘Help!’” said Adel Hagekhalil, an official with the Los Angeles sanitation department.

The crew lowered down a long hose to Jesse, who was about three meters deep in the pipe. The boy held onto the line while workers pulled him up.

By the time workers found Jesse, about 700 meters of pipes had been inspected during a 12-hour period.

Jesse was found less than two kilometers from where he fell in. He was taken to a hospital for a full physical examination and to be reunited with his family.

More than 100 people took part in the search for Jesse. In addition to the major rescue effort, Humphrey credited the boy for being able to survive.

Not only did he survive being pushed through sewage moving at speeds of 24 kilometers an hour, Jesse was able to find a small area of breathable air and wait there until he was found, officials said.

“Many would call it miraculous,” Humphrey said of Jesse’s survival. He added that the chances of someone surviving such an event are low.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was among those closely watching the rescue effort.

On Twitter, Garcetti praised rescuers and thanked Jesse’s family for their “patience and optimism” during the frightening experience.

And that’s What’s Trending Today…

I’m Ashley Thompson.

The Associated Press reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

sewage - n. waste material (such as human urine and feces) that is carried away from homes and other buildings in a system of pipe

miraculous - adj. very wonderful or amazing like a miracle​

optimism - n. a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future : a feeling or belief that what you hope for will happen​

plank - n. a long, thick board that is used especially in building something​

sanitation - n.​ the process of keeping places free from dirt, infection, disease, etc., by removing waste, trash and garbage, by cleaning streets, etc.​

hose - n. a long, usually rubber tube that liquids or gases can flow through​

manhole - n. a covered hole in a street that a person can go down into to do work under the street

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