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Teen who fell into Los Angeles sewer system thanks rescue crews

Teen saved from LA sewer thanks rescue crews
Teen saved from LA sewer thanks rescue crews 02:48

A 13-year old boy exploring an abandoned building in Los Angeles' Griffith Park fell some 25 feet into the city's sewer system last Sunday when a wooden plank gave way. The boy was saved about 12 hours later by dedicated rescue crews and some remarkable new technology. A grateful Jesse Hernandez got an opportunity to meet L.A.'s mayor and express his appreciation on Friday.    
 
"I'm so thankful for everybody who was involved in my rescue. Because of them I'm back with my family," Jesse said. 

The nightmare began when Jesse and his cousins gained access to an abandoned maintenance building.

"I was playing and I didn't see that a little piece of wood, and I stepped on it and I just fell down, the current took me," Jesse recalled. "I was thinking, like, I'm gonna die, and I was never going to see my parents again."

Teen rescued from LA sewer: "Mom, I'm alive" 02:11

Jesse plunged 25 feet into a four0-foot-wide pipe sewer filled with rushing water, untreated waste and toxic gas.
 
More than 100 firefighters joined sanitation workers in a frantic search. They scoured some 2,400 feet of pipe with differing depths of water, moving at around 15 miles per hour. The breakthrough came when they spotted handprints on the walls of the tunnel. Crews used what they call "Batman-like" tools, including a moving camera that they placed on a flotation device. They lowered a hose after spotting the boy and lifted him to safety.

After more than 12 hours underground, rescuers finally found Jesse, nearly a mile east of where he first fell in. Officials told CBS News if he had gone any further, Jesse may have been lost in the maze of drainage tunnels that snake below the city.

Just after the rescue Jesse asked for a cellphone so he could personally deliver the good news to his mother, with some humor, saying, "Mom I'm alive. Come pick me up."

The city will now look into demolishing the site so an accident like this won't be repeated.  

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