Search and rescue operators have discovered the body of 2-year-old Julen Rosello after he fell down a well shaft earlier this month near the southern Spanish city of Málaga. The toddler reportedly plummeted down the 330-foot-deep borehole after wandering off from his parents during a family outing.
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“At 01:25 (00:25 GMT), the rescue teams reached the area of the well where they were looking for Julen and they found the lifeless body of the little one,” said Alfonso Rodriguez Gomez de Celis, a government representative for the region of Andalusia, as reported by the BBC.
With the rescue operation spanning almost two weeks, the Spanish population held its breath, gluing themselves to daily news reports and hoping and praying for a miracle. Tragically, it proved an impossible fall to survive.
“All of Spain feels the infinite sadness of Julen’s family,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wrote on Twitter Saturday. “We will always appreciate the tireless effort of those who searched for him during all these days.”
Almost incomprehensibly, this is not the first child that parents Jose and Vicky have gone through the pain of losing. Just two years ago, their 3-year-old son, Oliver, died after succumbing to a heart attack brought on by a genetic cardiovascular defect.
On Sunday, the grief-stricken parents were seen attending a vigil following the discovery of their son’s body.
“Oliver, don’t forget your brother, Julen,” his mother wrote on social media, according to the Express. “You know we’ve been waiting for him for many hours. I know you protect him a lot, my little King.”
“If it’s true that there’s a God up there, help him please,” she added. “Hold on Julen.”
How did this happen?
The type of borehole that Julen fell down is common across Spain, though authorities believe that the businessman who created this one just a few weeks ago may not have obtained the correct permit. Authorities also suspect that the hole was not sealed properly — an accusation that the businessman disputes. Julen’s dad told Spanish outlet The Local that the opening to the well was “covered with two stones.”
“When I saw him close to it I ran after him,” he said of those horrific moments. “Then I saw my cousin, who was closer to Julen, fall to the ground.”
Then, Julen disappeared. Rosello heard a short cry, then silence. He rushed over and called for his son, but said he “couldn’t hear him anymore.”
“All I could say to him was ‘Julen, be calm, Daddy loves and your little brother (the couple’s deceased child Oliver) is going to help us,'” he said.
What happened during the rescue operation?
Expert miners were drafted in to help in the challenging rescue operation, partly hampered by the fact that the opening to the well was just 25 centimeters wide. In addition, crews discovered that about 75 meters down there was a blockage that they could not break through by hand. According to reports, a camera lowered down to try and locate the boy could not even fit through the tight gap. The streaming images did, however, assist rescuers in locating candy the boy was holding when he fell and also discovered hair in the soil that matched Julen’s DNA.
After experts realized that there was no safe way of breaking through the earthy blockage that prevented them from reaching Julen, it became clear that their operation was more about recovering his body than saving his life. Some reports indicate a separate shaft was dug before dynamite was used to breach through the rock. The young child had spent just under two weeks in the hole, and no-one had heard any noise from him since he fell. However, as a mark of respect to the family, rescue teams and law enforcement made an “unspoken pact” not to release any information on the boy’s survivability.
“My wife is broken,” Julen’s father Jose told reporters Wednesday, as reported by NBC. “We are dead inside.”
Do pray for this family as they grieve the loss of yet another of their children.