Aug. 22, 2011 -- A thirsty 8-year-old Utah boy attempted to climb down a couple's chimney to ask for a drink but ended up getting stuck in the chimney for four hours.
Firefighters rescued the boy, Stephen Hopkins, from Richard and Sandy Draper's chimney in West Valley City, Utah, on Friday.
Sandy Draper, 60, said the boy had played earlier in the day with her 8-year-old granddaughter and 5-year-old grandson. She said she had never met the boy before Friday.
"My daughter opened the door and there he was with his head hanging down. He said, 'I'm just looking for somebody to play with,'" Draper said.
Draper made toast for Stephen and he drank a glass of water during the afternoon. He played on the swings with her grandchildren. At around 2:45 p.m, Draper said, she sent the boy home because she needed to run errands.
When she returned home at around 4:10 p.m., she thought she heard a voice but assumed it was kids playing outside, she said. She and her husband dashed off to dinner.
"When we came back at 7:30 p.m., we came in and we hear this voice and Richard [her husband] said, 'Oh there's kids in the backyard,' and I say, 'Oh, I bet I left the TV on,'" Draper said.
It wasn't kids playing or a television turned on, but the 8-year-old boy crying for help.
"We could just hear this voice…I couldn't articulate the words until I hit the fireplace in the basement," she said.
When Draper asked how the boy got into the chimney, he said that he had climbed up a tree in the couple's yard to reach the chimney.
He would later tell police that he was thirsty and was trying to get into the home for a drink of water.
Attempts to reach Stephen's family were unsuccessful. Police said that they are not investigating any charges of child neglect.
The boy had been left in the care of his teenaged siblings and was last seen by his family at around 11 a.m. Friday, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The boy told the Drapers a different story: that he was staying with his grandparents for the next three days.
"My daughter's impression of him was that he was very sad, kind of lonely," Draper said.
Draper and her husband called authorities at around 7:30 p.m., around the same time that Stephen's family called to report him missing.
The boy made it nearly 30 feet down the chimney and got lodged in the couple's basement.
"He was definitely stuck inside there. Our officers did a fabulous job comforting him ... letting him know everything was going to be OK," said West Valley City Police Sgt. Michael Powell.
While the boy was lodged in the basement, firefighters were able to get him out by breaking through a wall in the Draper family's living room.
"A big burly fireman carried him out and he looked at everyone and then he hid his face," Draper said. "He was this blond, blue-eyed kid covered in black."
West Valley City Police said the boy was taken to the hospital on Friday but suffered only scrapes.
"I'm just glad he went down foot first," Draper said. "What's haunting for us is what could have been ... who would look in their chimney for a missing child. ... We kind of can have humor in it now because it turned out well."