UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A small child was taken to the hospital after falling in a manhole on Thursday morning in New Jersey.
CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis has more on the incredible rescue in Union County.
While the child’s mother has not been identified, people who live in the area called her a hero and and incredible mom after she jumped into the hole to save her son.
“Mother bear instinct, for sure,” Tamisha Baako-Boafo said.
That mother of three said her heart goes out to the woman whose quiet morning in Kawameeh Park turned into a traumatizing experience.
“That’s a mother’s worst nightmare,” Baako-Boafo said.
Union Fire Department officials said the incident happened at around 10:45 a.m. while the mother and son were playing in the park.
She suddenly noticed he was missing and realized he had fallen into the open manhole. The mother then immediately called 911, but when the child was out of sight she put down the phone and jumped in.
She was able to reach him and pull him out before first responders arrived.
It’s about six feet to the water and about two more feet below that, according to Union Battalion Chief Anthony Schmidtberg, who added the water was almost up to the child’s neck. He then described the mother’s incredible actions.
“When you’re in a situation like that and it’s your child you’ll do anything you possibly can to save them,” Schmidtberg said. “It was more amazing she was able to get them both out because there is no access ladder. She must have grabbed onto the ledge and jumped out.”
He said after a powerful storm like Ida the pressure can pull manhole covers off. Neighbors shared pictures from that storm showing the park was more like a pond.
“If the authorities knew there was a manhole here maybe after the flood would have been OK for them to check,” neighbor Emmanuel Baako-Boafo said.
“Incredibly alarming and quite disturbing to be honest with you because there are a lot of kids that come here. The fact the township wouldn’t address that is beyond,” Tamisha Baako-Boafo added.
Juan Flores said his brother recently warned him about the holes and he tried to alert the township.
“My 7-year-old daughter always wanna go there. I said nope, we can’t go, there’s two holes. I even called the town one time and that’s it, the holes are still there,” Flores said.
The Department of Public Works had crews out inspecting the park and other similar locations after the frightening ordeal.
“Hopefully, we can feel safe going to the park again,” Emmanuel Baako-Boafo said.
The little boy and his mother were very upset, but weren’t hurt.
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