Jesse Hernandez celebrates Easter by picnicking and playing soccer and volleyball in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. When it came time for the Easter-egg hunt, they boys were not around.
Thirteen-year-old Hernandez and his cousins were playing in an abandoned maintenance building, jumping on wooden planks at 4:45 p.m. PT. At least until one of the planks broke. Hernandez fell 25 feet into a 4-foot-wide drainage pipe. According to fire officials, the pipe flows into the L.A. River. Friends said his cousins called for him, but only heard their own echoes in response.
After five hours, Hernandez still had not been found.
Dominique Barraza, a family friend, said they tried to send text messages and called his cell phone. The phone rings and goes to voicemail.
A frantic search ensued Sunday afternoon. Over 100 urban search-and-rescue crews, firefighters trained in confined spaces and swift-water rescuers joined the search.
The pipe Hernandez is a closed-pipe system. The search group studied the maps of the system that stretches hundreds of feet. They attached a camera to a floatation device and send it 300 feet down the pipe. They were setup in multiple areas hoping the young man would come through one of the pipes into the L.A. River, or a drain near Chevy Chase Drive.
Los Angeles Police Sgt. Bruno La Hoz said that the system was a giant maze and admitted they were not sure where the drain pipe leads.
Throughout the system, pipes are filled with varying depths of water moving at 15 mph. Rescuers were not able to enter the drainage area because it was a hazardous environment, according to spokesman for the L.A. Fire Department, David Ortiz.
Officials with the Department of Sanitation were reviewing the maps to determine if there are any areas Hernandez could be stuck.
Crews searched throughout the night with advanced cameras with lighting abilities. The cameras can be attached to pontoons and crawl through the pipes.
At nightfall, 25 people at the scene held hands and bowed their heads in prayer. Twenty of Hernandez’s family members remained at the scene.
Live news coverage showed firefighters on the maintenance building, lowering a ladder into the ditch. However, the hovering news helicopters hindered the search effort and were asked to pull back.
According to people who were at the search and posting on Reddit, Hernandez has been found alive just before 8 a.m.
By Jeanette Smith
Los Angeles Times: Frantic search underway for boy who fell into Griffith Park drainage pipe: ‘That place is a maze’
MSN: Frantic search underway for boy who fell into Griffith Park drainage ditch: ‘That place is a maze’