Man stuck in ‘pizza-sized’ storm drain rescued after two days

Rescue crews working to extract a man who got stuck in a storm drain in Antioch, California. Contra Costa Fire Protection District

One 16-inch pipe, 15 feet underground, two days, 50 firefighters — this is a story that can be told in numbers.

A man from Antioch in San Francisco’s Bay Area was rescued late Sunday after getting stuck underground in a storm drain the size of a large pizza. The rescue effort took Contra Costa County Fire officials three-and-a-half hours to extract the man, who they say entered the storm drain intentionally.

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesperson Steve Hill told CBS San Francisco that the man went into the storm drain Friday, came upon heavy debris, and couldn’t back out again.

“He couldn’t get through and he couldn’t go back,” he said.

After being stuck in such an enclosed space for two days, Hill said, “When we finally got him out of the ground, he was beyond exuberant. He was beyond happy to be above-ground.”

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Someone called 911 after a passerby heard the man’s cries for help.

“I was just walking by and I heard him yelling through the pipes,” the Good Samaritan told CBS San Francisco.

“All of a sudden it got louder and louder and that’s when I called police.”

Hill says the man is lucky someone even heard his calls for help. “That’s fairly miraculous because it was pretty windy out there,” he said.

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The operation to extract the man involved four firefighters entering the storm drain from one direction while another rescue crew dug another access point from the opposite side.

The man who was stuck was able to communicate with authorities all throughout the rescue efforts, as crew members worked to clear branches, garbage and other debris in order to reach him.

According to Hill, the man, who is in his mid-30s, wasn’t injured but showed signs of dehydration. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

It’s still unclear why the man entered the drain in the first place.

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