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Grand Rapids Fire Department finds man inside storm drain system

Grand Rapids Fire Department
Posted at 11:34 AM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 11:34:56-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Fire Department is advising against entering storm drain tunnels after a man was found Monday evening inside the sewers.

Firefighters were dispatched about 7:30 p.m. for what was initially a water rescue reported south of the 6th Street dam, GRFD told Fox 17.

Crews were told upon arrival that a man had entered a storm drain system tunnel that he accessed on the east side of the river and that he had not returned.

A reconnaissance team entered the tunnel with air monitoring and thermal imaging cameras, traveling about 100 feet into the tunnel without finding the man.

The tunnel narrowed into a two-foot-diameter pipe.

The recon group said the air was clear but that a map would be needed to go further to continue trying to find the man.

Meanwhile, other crews – including Grand Rapids police officers – were searching near manhole covers.

One crew saw that a ladder under one of these covers had wet footprints on it, indicating someone was in the area.

After assembling the needed rescue resources, the search group went inside the system and found footprints in the silt.

Another crew radioed in that the man had been found at a manhole about three blocks north of the crew’s location.

When crews lifted the manhole cover, the man was able to climb the ladder without help.

He was released after an ambulance crew assessed him.

The Grand Rapids Fire Department says these confined spaces may contain “potentially harmful atmospheres with diminished oxygen or contaminated substances,” especially untreated water run-off.