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Ohio teen alive and well after quarter-mile sewer ride

September 07, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • This photo shows an Ohio manhole cover. A teen in a Cleveland suburb was flushed nearly a quarter of a mile before being rescued by responders.
This photo shows an Ohio manhole cover. A teen in a Cleveland suburb was flushed… (Rob Zand / Flickr )

An Ohio teenager is lucky to be alive after he was swept away by overflowing creek waters Tuesday and carried through a series of sewer pipes before he was rescued about 1,500 feet from the spot where he first fell in.

"It's a miracle that the kid was even alive, let alone hardly hurt at all," Doug Turner, a spokesman for the Parma Fire Department, told the Associated Press.

Jeffrey LaPorta, 14, suffered little more than scrapes and bruises -- although he told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he was praying for his life during the hourlong ordeal.

Here's what happened, according to the Associated Press: The teenager and a friend were riding their bikes through puddles created by a rising creek that runs along a strip mall parking lot in Parma, Ohio. The teen fell into the water running just off the edge of the parking lot and found himself in a drain pipe roughly 2 feet in diameter.

"The water was moving so quickly it sucked him into the drain," Turner said. He was carried beneath the parking lot into a storm sewer, and swept through pipes running under four lanes of traffic. At times, Jeffrey was fully submerged under water, unable to breathe. At other times, the water ran waist-deep.

When he found himself in shallower waters, he grabbed something to hold onto. Meanwhile, the teen's friend flagged down a city worker, who contacted firefighters. The emergency workers popped at least six manhole covers in their search, calling out Jeffrey's name. "One of the firefighters climbed down into the manhole, started flashing the light around and could see the kid, but he was quite a bit away," Turner told the news service. "He just said, 'Hold on, we're coming to get you.'"

"It was dark, it was scary, it was nasty," LaPorte told ABC. "In my head I'm like, 'Thank you, Lord.' I was praying," Jeffrey said. "I'm a little bruised up, but I'm lucky to be alive."

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