It took three and a half hours, fifty people, and risky maneuvers to save a man in his mid-30s from an underground storm drain pipe where he’d gotten stuck, the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District said Sunday.
This all happened on Buchanan Road, near the intersection with Somersville Road in Antioch.
CCCFPD Public Information Officer Steve Hill tells SFist that the man didn't seem to have fallen in, but rather climbed in on purpose.
“He crawled into this pipe, for whatever reason, and I guess was doing maybe okay until he hit a sizable debris field that was jamming the pipe," explained Hill.
The storm drain was just 16 inches wide, and the CCCFPD says it was a complex mission to get the man out. Rescuers say they had to clear out the debris the man had gotten stuck in before they could pull him out. They also tried getting in from two different directions.
Jamie Linsey, a man who had been walking by the drain pipe on the way to the store, tells ABC 7 that he was the first person to hear the man's cries for help. "I was just walking by, and I heard him yelling through the pipe," Linsey said. "And then all of a sudden the noise started getting louder and louder, and I heard him screaming for help... and I ended up calling the police."
Rescuers from Con Fire, East County Fire, the Antioch Police Department, and the City of Antioch all assisted with the effort. A mission like that requires specialized crews and quite a bit of resources, the CCCFPD said.
Pictures from the scene show heavy equipment operators using excavators to dig into the ground.
Around 8:40 p.m. the Fire Protection District said four firefighters had finally made it into the underground space to get to the man. Just under an hour later, the District announced he’d been rescued.
Hill says the man told rescuers he'd been stuck there for two days, but added the CCCFPD isn't able to verify that. Hill says the man did, however, show some signs of having been without food and water.
The man was taken to the hospital for evaluation, but the CCCFPD says he appeared mostly uninjured. Throughout the rescue mission, the CCCFPD says he remained responsive and communicative with rescue personnel.