14-Month-Old Trapped in Air Duct Rescued by Firefighters After Falling 12' Down Vent


Kristie Mendes was spending Tuesday morning in her Connecticut home with her 14-month-old son, Elijah. She needed to go to the bathroom so she ensured that little Elijah was gated in and went to the next room.

A few moments later, the toddler’s screams rang through the house. Mendes scrambled back to see why her son was screaming, but she didn’t see him at first.

When she looked down the open air vent, she was horrified. Her little boy had taken the vent cover off and fallen about 12 feet down the air duct. He was wedged at a 90-degree corner.

Mendes said, “It was extremely, extremely scary. He was screaming the whole time. He was screaming ‘Mommy’ and he was screaming ‘Daddy’ and he kept looking up trying to reach, but I couldn’t reach him.”

Frantic, she called 911. They encouraged her to keep her son as calm as possible until first responders were able to arrive.

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The Waterford Fire Department arrived on the scene just a few minutes later and began to plan out how to get the young boy out. Tom Martin was one of the men who responded that day.

“The baby was in a position where his hands were over his head, and he was in a position where he couldn’t get them back down,” Martin told CBS 2. “He was sandwiched from the front and from his backside and had room on the sides. His head was kind of pinned in there.”

They entered the crawl space under the house and disassembled the ductwork until they were able to free Elijah. It only took them 20 minutes from the moment they arrived at the Connecticut home.

The Fire Department shared photos of the air vent on their Facebook page and described the incident. The post ended, “Thanks to extensive training and the unification of all on-scene emergency personnel this incident was mitigated swiftly and luckily resulted in a very positive outcome!”

The boy seemed to only have minor scrapes and scratches but was taken to a nearby hospital for further inspection.

Mendes says that her house has been baby proofed, but assumed those covers were screwed down. She thinks he must has used a hanger to take the cover off.

She is just beyond thankful for everyone who helped save Elijah. “Everyone said it was a miracle because just afterwards he was okay. It is a miracle and I’m so thankful for all the cops that helped, the firefighters, the EMTs, everyone that was here,” she said.

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Now she is hoping that this horrific story will encourage other parents to double check their air vent covers.

“Out of all of this, to help people be aware that it can happen,” she said to ABC 7. “And like I’m doing today, I’m getting all new gates and screwing them all down.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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