Jess Hernandez, 13 years old, fell down an old sewage shaft in the first week of April, and was swept away into a labyrinth of tunnels beneath Los Angeles. Few thought that he would survive for long, however, 12 hours after he was carried away, the boy was found filthy but alive in a drain at the side of a motorway.
He had travelled nearly a mile through a maze of pipes flowing with raw sewage that run beneath eight-lane highways and giant road junctions, following the course of the Los Angeles River. After being carried east and then south, some two-thirds of a mile, he managed to crawl into a cavity above the torrent.
Rescue workers using cameras lowered down hatchways found traces of where he had been, then moved downstream to a manhole cover at the edge of a highway. Lifting the lid down the hole, he heard a voice shout: “Help”. Jess was 12 feet below them. They lowered a hose to him which he gripped and they hauled him, hosed him down and cleaned his eyes.