Transcript for How teen boy was rescued from inside a drainage pipe
Tuesday with that dramatic rescue of a 13-year-old boy who fell 25 feet down a drainage pipe swept away, miraculously surviving over 12 hours as emergency responders raced against the clock to find him and whit Johnson was on the scene for it all and joins us from Los Angeles. Good morning to you, whit. Reporter: Paula, good morning. Some rescuers are calling it the Easter miracle. And this is where it all began. That old maintenance vent. Jesse and his friends playing around on top and in seconds he was gone plunging into the sewer below traveling more than half a mile through a toxic tunnel. This morning, 13-year-old Jesse Hernandez speaking out about his miraculous rescue. I was thinking like I'm going to die. Reporter: Haunting new video showing Jesse's harrowing 13-hour path through the sewer system and fought desperately for anything to grab onto leaving hand streaks along the left wall of the pipe. The video shows there's like hand prints on the wall. Did you do that on purpose so people would know where you were? Yeah. It's a miracle he survived and it was just overwhelming joy. Reporter: Jesse's terrifying journey began Sunday at a family Easter celebration in Griffith park. Jesse and his friends wandering off to play at this decommissioned maintenance vent where he fell through a wood plank. The boy plummeting 25 feet through this hole into the rushing raw sewage below. I was playing and I didn't see that it was a little piece of wood and I stepped on it and I just fell down and the current took me. Reporter: In a race against time, rescuers using specialized floating cameras map out the maid of four-foot-wide underground pipes. Finally a clue. Those hand prints leading sanitation workers to a hatch, 3500 feet from where Jesse fell in when I heard noises I was screaming and whistling loud. The two workers loosened that maintenance hole then the first thing they hear is help. They could hear the boy asking for help. And right away they lowered the hose and said hold on. He held on and they reeled him up. Reporter: Once safe above ground Jesse asking for a cell phone to call his family. He was decontaminated on the scene and taken to a local hospital. I'm thankful for coming back with my family. Reporter: This morning Jesse is out of the hospital and back home with his family. Meantime, here at the maintenance vent you can see the city is adding a second layer of fencing, boarded up the windows and bolted shut that hole that he fell through hoping something like this never happens again. Paula. Yeah, Easter miracle, indeed. Whit, thanks for your reporting. Joining news Erik Scott. Captain, thanks for joining us. We heard in whit's piece he's doing okay. We know Jesse spent 12 hours in those pipes. Can you give us an update on how he's doing this morning? We haven't heard from him this morning and how he's doing but we hear that he's been healing well and he was a bit bruised up as you could imagine being in this environment but we're so pleased for the positive outcome. The system of pipes and dranks, it's incredibly complex. Your public information officer said you did not expect to find a viable person. Why didn't you think that Jesse would be alive? Well, just purely due to the duration and the unique environment that he was in. This was a multifaceted complex type of an incident. Have you a potential for swift water rescue. You definitely have a hazardous materials environment. You have a confined space environment and this was all a closed pipe system that you can't see underground with minimal access holes to it so those are a lot of the challenges we had to overcome and our firefighters were very inventive and this building behind me here, they had lowered down their own video camera, put them on flotation devices similar to that of a boogie board to get a quick visual and tether that off with rope and lower it in 300 feet in hopes to find Jesse and we didn't and this went on and on. We then picked up that operation and moved that down farther. As minutes go by, as hours go by, we know based on experience and training that a viable victim is becoming less and less possible so really when it came -- go ahead. Finish your thought. When it comes down to around that 4:00 hour in particular, there was a lot of tension, I mean, at that point it had been 8, 10 hours on this search. We knew the toxic environment. We had taken air samples. There was hydrogen sulfide in there. We knew it was, in fact, a sewer line. We were determining where any pockets were and then we saw those marks on the side and we knew for a fact that he was in there because there was even a question was he in there. The family sent us a photo and say, hey, send this out to the public in case he got out or never was in that we can have anyone in the public have them call the local police station and let us know, so once we saw those marks on the wall I'll be honest, our hearts kind of sank because now we knew in fact we did have Jesse inside of this hazardous area and it had been such a long time and based on experience usually a body recovery. Well, captain Erik Scott, this was the best case scenario. Kudos to such a team effort including Jesse who did his part as well. We're so relieved that he was found alive. Thanks for your time this morning.
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