Lifestyle & Human Interest

29-Year-Old Stuck in Storm Drain for 2 Days Before Cyclist Spots His Hand Waving from Drain


Most people don’t pay particular attention to things like storm drains during their daily commutes. Unless they’re stopped at a light or have been horrified by the movie “It,” they probably don’t make a habit of scanning the gap between the curb and the pavement.

But one cyclist did — and a 29-year-old man has him to thank for being on dry ground.

According to KXAN, an unnamed cyclist was biking along Research Boulevard in Austin, Texas, Thursday morning when he saw something unusual: Hands, waving from a storm drain.

“Hey can you help me I’m in here I’ve been in here for 48 hours,” the man belonging to the hands reportedly explained when people stopped to investigate.

As it turned out, there was a 29-year-old man trapped in the storm drain. No word on how or why he was down there — though commenters have chimed in with many colorful possibilities — but down there he was, and he needed help.

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Austin-Travis County EMS tweeted the rescue, beginning at around 10:00 a.m. While the man was initially described as being “trapped in a manhole,” that turned into a “technical rescue.”

The problem was not as simple as finding the nearest manhole and crawling through the pipes to escape, as local salesman Scotty Stephens, who works at the nearby Toyota dealership, discovered.

According to KTBC, Stephens and some coworkers managed to lift a nearby manhole cover, but the entrance did not clearly connect to where the man was trapped.

Austin Fire Department Special Operations Battalion Chief Eddie Martinez later explained that Austin drains are not intuitively connected, which made the rescue that much more difficult.

“There are so many of these drainages they don’t just all lead to one spot; they lead to parallel spots, so it’s hard to find the one that gets just to that one single location,” he explained to KTBC. “So it’s a very dangerous place to be.”

All in all, over 20 first responders showed up to check on and then extricate the man. They were able to find an entrance to the man’s location about 3/4 of a mile away.

“UPDATE2 Technical Rescue ~8400blk Research Blvd: On-scene resources state patient is conscious/alert unable to get out, has been in for ‘2-days,'” Austin-Travis County EMS tweeted. “Hasty team of #ATCEMS & @AustinFireInfo attempting to locate & enter the system at the patients original entry point. More to follow.”

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“UPDATE3 Technical Rescue ~8400blk Research Blvd: Search teams continue to explore the drainage system attempting to make access to the patient,” they shared about half an hour later. “City of Austin Public Works also on way to scene to assist with unknown ETA. More information to follow.”

“FINAL technical rescue ~8400blk Research Blvd: Patient is out of the drainage system,” they updated. “Being evaluated by #ATCEMSMedics. Transport to be determined. No further updates planned.”

Video of the scene shows the man looking to be in fairly good health, waving and smiling to onlookers as he was rolled toward an ambulance. Authorities said other than being hungry and thirsty, he seemed to be doing well.

There’s no word yet on whether or not this wayward fellow has earned himself any violations — but at least he’s safe for now and certainly doing his darnedest to keep Austin weird.

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