5 kids rescued from NYC sewer; firefighters say cell phone was 'key' to finding them

ByDarla Miles WLS logo
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Cell phone was "key" in rescuing five children from SI storm drain
FDNY describes the dramatic events that went into rescuing five children lost in a storm drain on Staten Island. Darla Miles has the story.

STATEN ISLAND, New York -- "We're stuck in the sewer" isn't exactly how one expects to spend time after school.

On Tuesday, that seemingly became the reality for a group of 11- and 12-year-olds, who entered the sewer drain in the West Brighton section of Staten Island and got lost in the tunnel.

As our sister station WABC-TV reported, the NYPD ESU and FDNY received a call around 6 p.m. from a group of five kids who entered the drain and got lost in the tunnel.

"They were nervous. I think they got to the point where they were nervous if they were ever going to find their way out," said FDNY firefighter John Loennecker.

The boys found their way inside the storm drain around 6 p.m. on Tuesday in Clove Lake Park.

Confirming their location, though, was a difficult task.

After being prompted by the 911 dispatcher to call out for help, the five were eventually rescued.

"The last drain I opened on Clove is when I could hear them clearly and what they were saying," said Loennecker.

The boys were rescued by first responders and firefighters and taken to Richmond University Medical Center as a precaution.

One firefighter was injured during the rescue and was also taken to RUMC.

According to FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens, the cell phone used to call 911 and the spotlight on the phone was crucial in their rescue efforts.

"Amazing that the cell phone worked in the tunnel," he said. "That was a key component of us finding them."