The 13-year-old boy who was trapped in a fast-moving river of raw sewage for 13 hours thanked God for his new lease on life after rescuers found him.
Jesse Hernandez and his family were partaking in their traditional Easter picnic over the weekend when he and another boy left to explore an abandoned building, ABC News reported.
A piece of wood that Jesse stepped on gave way, sending him 25 feet down a sewer pipe – about 4 feet in diameter — that runs parallel to the Los Angeles River. The pipes are filled with about 2 feet or more of sewage moving at 15 mph, according to officials.
“I thought I was gonna die but I didn’t cause I got to stand up,” he told ABC News. “…It felt like a dream.”
After Jesse’s phone fell out of his pocket while he was trying to use it for light, he stayed awake in the same spot for 13 hours. During that time, he thought about his family.
“I didn’t want to lose them,” he said. “I was pretty scared.”
The Los Angeles Fire Department were able to pinpoint the search area to a one-mile radius after working through the night. Then, cameras used to inspect pipes for repair detected handprints inside the pipe.
Jesse screamed “help,” and rescuers lowered a rope to him. He had traveled about three quarters of a mile from the original spot where he fell.
The first thing he asked for after he was rescued was a phone to call his mom, asking her where she was and for her to come pick him up, he said. He then asked his mom to “not get mad” because he lost his phone.
The next day expressed gratitude to God as well as the crews who worked to find him.
“Thank God for giving me another chance to live,” he said.
LAFD Capt. Erik Scott told ABC News it was a “miracle” he survived. Several of the first responders held back tears and embraced each other after he was found.
“We maintained hope, we maintained intensity and we did not give up,” Scott said. “But I’ll be honest, we did not think we would find a viable patient.”
(H/T: ABC News)