Mom saves tot after fall into sewer

March 13, 2009 8:42:38 PM PDT
A quick-thinking mother in Naperville rescued her 20-month-old son after he fell into a water-filled sewer. It happened last week as they were walking to a park. A Naperville mother is still recovering after terrifying incident on what should have been an enjoyable outing. Now she is urging her community to take action so no one else endures the scare she suffered.

"I just can't believe that in an absolute second your life can absolutely change," said Julie Gogola, mother.

One week ago, Gogola and her two young children were taking a walk, enjoying one of the first warm days of the year. Twenty-month-old Chase was steps ahead of his mother as they entered Springhill Park, in Naperville, and then, in an instant, he was gone.

Chase fell into a grated, partially uncovered storm sewer. His panicking mother struggled to pull him out.

"All I could see were his legs. He was face down. I thought he was dead," Gogola said.

After freeing herself from her daughter's baby carrier, Julie jumped in and lifted him over her head and out of the sewer. The action wound up clearing the water from his lungs and may have saved his life.

"I was very fortunate," said Gogola.

Neighbors saw the commotion and rushed to help, calling 911 and pulling blankets from their homes to warm Chase up. Chase seems to be OK, but his mother is angry that anyone can unlock a sewer and create a safety hazard.

"I don't understand how there's no lock. I don't understand how it's only 100 pounds. I feel like any adult male can lift 100 pounds," Gogola said.

George Napel, the mayor of Naperville, said he is happy to hear that Chase is OK and safe at home. He said Julie is an extraordinary mom and added that the city regrets the family had to endure such a horrible incident.