A 13-year-old boy who fell into an underground system of sewage pipes Sunday was found alive despite the toxic environment he encountered, an official said Monday.
“It’s with happy hearts that all Los Angeles City agencies are able to state that we have found Jesse Hernandez,” Los Angeles Fire Department Captain Erik Scott said at a news conference about 5:30 a.m. Monday.
Rescuers searched for more than 12 hours after Hernandez fell about 25 feet into a 4-foot diameter pipe while playing on top of a Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation structure in Griffith Park on Sunday.
The conditions in the sewage system were described as toxic, but Scott expressed hope that Hernandez would be found alive at an earlier news conference.
Hernandez was eventually found about a mile east of where he initially was reported missing in the 5200 block of Zoo Drive, near the Travel Town Museum.
A sanitation crew was opening up a maintenance hatch near where the 134 Freeway goes under the 5 Freeway to put in a camera as part of the search, “and that’s where we located Jesse Hernandez alive and talking,” Scott said.
The boy was given a cellphone to contact his parents after being pulled from the pipe. “As you can imagine, we’re overwhelmed with joy,” Scott said.
Hernandez is receiving "decontamination," medical aid and was being taken to a local hospital, according to LAFD.
An official at County USC Medical Center later confirmed Hernandez had been at the hospital, and was later released.
The teen was playing with four to six other boys about 4:30 p.m. when he fell through what was described as a “wooden plank,” by Los Angeles Police Sgt. Bruno La Hoz.
"The plank gave, the wood broke, and the kid fell right through it,” La Hoz said shortly after the search for Hernandez began Sunday.
The sewage system is comprised of miles of enclosed pipes that stretch as far as the Los Angeles River and beyond, Scott said.