LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Surrounded by sanitation workers, first responders, family and reporters, the boy whose harrowing tale of being trapped inside a sewer pipe for half a day captured the nation’s attention overcame his nerves and thanked his rescuers.
“I’m so thankful for everybody who was involved in my rescue — because of them, I’m back with my family — and God for giving me a another chance to live,” Jesse Hernandez told reporters at a Friday press conference.
He does have a lot to be grateful for, given his ordeal this past Easter Sunday. After climbing a fence and making his way onto a restricted building in Griffith Park, the 13-year-old fell into a shaft leading to a sewer. He was found Monday morning after more than 12 hours, three-quarters of a mile from where he disappeared.
Hernandez was reunited with the men who pulled him out through a city maintenance hatch, sanitation workers Michael Adams and Kurt Boyer.
When asked what it’s like inside the L.A. sewer system, Adams replied, “We don’t even go in the sewer,” which was met with laughs from his fellow workers and the crowd behind him. “I couldn’t even imagine what he went through, you know. It’s definitely a toxic environment. He’s the toughest kid I know,” added Adams.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti called the rescue an Easter miracle performed by the often unsung heroes who literally plumb the depths of L.A. sewers.
“These are the men and women who spread their wings every single day in so many ways that won’t make it onto the cameras, because maybe the story isn’t as dramatic as the one we’re celebrating here today,” praised Garcetti.
Workers used a roving camera to locate Hernandez in the pipe, searching from nightfall to just before daybreak Monday. They accessed the boy through a maintenance hatch in Griffith Park near the 134 Fwy.
Hernandez was taken to local hospital and released a short time later.