Los Angeles city sanitation workers Michael Adams and Kurt Boyer will be recognized before Tuesday evening’s Los Angeles Dodgers-Colorado Rockies game at Dodger Stadium for their role in the rescue of a 13-year-old boy who spent about 12 hours lost in the sewer system.
Adams and Boyer opened a hatch on a lane of the Ventura Freeway and spotted Jesse Hernandez in a pipe that was about 11 feet deep and 42 inches in diameter. They were able to lower a hose down and pull him out.
“We were ecstatic that we were able to find him,” Adams said at a news conference April 6, four days after the rescue. “It was a lot of hard work. You know, everybody in sanitation did it, it wasn’t just us two.”
Jesse’s ordeal began about 4:30 p.m. on April 1 near the train museum in Griffith Park, where he was spending Easter with his family. Jesse and some friends had climbed a chain-link fence around an abandoned maintenance shack and were playing on it when a plank broke apart and he fell into a sewage system opening that led to the Los Angeles River.
The teen was found early the next morning after a frantic search involving firefighters and workers from the Los Angeles Public Works and Water and Power departments, Los Angeles police and California Highway Patrol officers, and park rangers.
Rescuers dropped cameras that could float along the bottom of pipes where the boy fell. The network of sewage pipes is a closed system that required a detailed search on each possible pathway.
According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, the pipes are four feet in diameter, and are filled with liquid at varying depth of two feet and deeper, sometimes moving at 15 mph. The pipes parallel the Los Angeles River and cross under freeways.
Through the video camera feed, officials eventually spotted a handprint on a wall and some other markings that appeared to have been made by Jesse, which helped them narrow down where he might be.