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Mom saves toddler who fell into open manhole at park

Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 9:53 PM HST
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UNION, N.J. (News 12) - A New Jersey mother made a daring rescue after her 2-year-old son fell into an open manhole while playing at the park.

People who live near Kawameeh Park in Union County, New Jersey, say that floodwaters from Ida forced manhole covers from at least two manholes there. They are wondering why no one came to fix the issue until a child fell in.

Juan Flores hasn’t taken his kids to the park, a block away from his home, since the flooding more than two weeks ago. He reported the manhole cover issue to the town Monday.

“We called a couple times. I’m pretty sure a lot of neighbors did it because we have a lot of kids playing in this park. Nobody came. Nobody closed the holes,” he said.

On Thursday morning, a 2-year-old boy fell into one of the open manholes while playing in the park. His mother jumped in after him, grabbing him just in the nick of time.

“As she was on the phone with 911, he began to float down with the running sewage water… She dropped her phone, jumped in the hole and was able to grab him before he got to a point in the sewer where she could not reach him,” said Battalion Chief Anthony Schmidtberg with the Union Fire Department.

The mother managed to get both herself and her son out. They were checked out by EMTs at the scene then went to the hospital on their own for observation.

Tamisha Baako, who lives across the street from the park with her three kids, says it’s disappointing it took such a traumatic incident to force action. She’s thankful it wasn’t any worse.

“There’s so many events that actually happen at this park, so the fact that it wasn’t addressed or wasn’t looked at is a big oversight. You’re coming to the park to enjoy and have relaxation… and then to have a devastating experience like that and traumatizing for both her and the son,” Baako said.

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