Frantic 911 call released of mother whose toddler fell down manhole at playground in New Jersey

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, October 1, 2021
911 call released after boy falls into NJ manhole
The boy is alive thanks to his quick-acting mother.

UNION, New Jersey (WABC) -- For the first time, we're hearing the frantic 911 call made by a mother in New Jersey after her son tumbled down a manhole.

The 1-year-old boy fell through an open manhole in Kawameeh Park in Union last week, tumbling seven feet down into raw sewage.


Dispatcher: 911 what is your emergency?

Mother: I need someone. I need someone to come there's an open manhole

Dispatcher: you need someone where?

Mother: There's an open man hole in Union, New Jersey, HENRY!

Dispatcher: Ma'am, give me an address! Ma'am, what's going on?

Mother: My son fell in an open manhole.

The dispatcher was able to ping the phone to get the mother and child's location and send rescuers.

The 14-month-old boy's mother jumped in and managed to pull him out before he was swept away by water rushing into the hole.

Rescuers arrived right after she got out of the hole. They were taken to a local hospital to be checked out, but were not seriously hurt.

"I think when your child is in a situation like that, you'll do anything possible to save them," said Anthony Schmidtberg, with the Union Fire Department. "It was more amazing that she was able to get them both out, because there is no access ladder out there. She must've gripped onto the ledge and jumped out of there."

Flooding from Hurricane Ida may have generated enough pressure in the underlying sewer to blow the manhole cover off.

"You just have to be careful, watch where you step," Schmidtberg said. "Check, especially if there is a storm, you should never go, when you cannot see it, in the water. These things do pop up, and you can fall, and you're not going to be able to get back out."

Officials say they examined all local parks to make sure each manhole was covered as a result of this incident.


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