Man stuck in sewer rescued after workers heard help calls

Firefighters rescued a man from a stormwater sewer after construction workers heard him calling for help from underground.

Emergency workers responded Tuesday morning to a street in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they determined where the trapped man was based on his yells. Workers opened a nearby manhole cover, directed him where to go and used a ladder to get him out.

It’s unclear how the man got into the sewer and for how long he’d be down there. He told firefighters he woke up down there and thought maybe he had been down there for days.

“He was either very reluctant or unable to tell us more,” said Allentown Fire Captain John Christopher. “We weren’t getting a lot of information. But he had been down there for quite some time.”

Video taken by onlookers shows the disheveled man, who appears to be barefoot, stumbling and being held up by emergency officials. He’s then put onto a gurney. Officials have not released his name.

Christopher said through that part of the sewer, “you’re pretty much belly-crawling. It’s not even a crouch.”

The man was hypothermic and dehydrated, Christopher said. He was taken to a hospital where his condition is unknown.

Construction workers heard cries of help early Tuesday morning while working at a new residential building but couldn’t determine from where exactly it was coming. They called 911 shortly before 8 a.m. By shouting down sewer grates in the area, firefighters were able to conclude where the man was located.

They opened a few manhole covers to find the one he was closest to.

“We popped down and could see him in the pipe,” Christopher said. A firefighter assisted him up the ladder and to the street.

Christopher said it hasn’t been determined how and where the man entered the sewer system but said it could have been at Jordan Creek, which runs through Allentown before flowing into the Lehigh River.

“He would have had to enter it from somewhere,” Christopher said. “It wouldn’t be an easy process. You’d have to willingly do that.”

Police have not charged the rescued man and it’s unknown if the city will conduct an investigation. Allentown is about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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