Wisconsin firefighter in the right place at the right time rescues boy swept into storm drain

Wesley Pompa.
(Image credit: Don Jungen via AP)

It was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment: On Tuesday night, while searching for a boy who was sucked into a Wisconsin storm drain, a firefighter happened to look down at a manhole cover and saw the 11-year-old's fingers pop up through an opening.

The boy was playing with his friends in a flooded drainage ditch in Calumet County when he suddenly slipped under the water, and never came back up, The Associated Press reports. Sheriff's deputies, a dive team, and volunteer firefighters came rushing to the scene, and Deputy Fire Chief Wesley Pompa and another official began trying to determine where the water might take the boy. They were standing on a manhole cover, and when Pompa looked down, he saw the boy's fingers.

Immediately, they got to work prying the cover open, then lifted the boy out. "He was hollering," Pompa told AP. The boy had managed to find an air pocket under the cover, and was holding on to a ladder when Pompa spotted his fingers. "I just thank God he was alive and he'd made it that long," Pompa said. "It could have gone a million different ways but this one way it worked out for him." The boy, whose name was not released, was taken to an area hospital. The region has been hit by several storms over the last week, with flooding reported in 20 counties.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.