Tucson fire department rescues teen stuck in storm drain

Posted at 9:29 PM, Mar 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-11 14:22:36-05

A teenager that was stuck in a storm drain on Tucson's west side had to be rescued by the Tucson Fire Department earlier this week. His feet were inside the drain, his head and arms were outside of it in the street and the rest of his body was stuck.

"There was a young man that found himself wedged in the storm drain, trying to exit," Captain Andy Skaggs of the Tucson Fire Department said. "It appeared that he was trying to not be seen, trying to hide from someone or somebody."

In this instance, he was trying to avoid law enforcement after he and some friends started a small fire, according to Capt. Skaggs. While looking for a place to hide, the teenagers chose a storm drain -- but one of them got stuck.

However, the fire captain explained they get more calls about people stuck in storm drains than one might think.

"Two or three times within the last couple of months," he said. "For all different reasons, they've had individuals stuck in a storm drain where they've needed to get them out."

The way to do that -- with the "jaws of life," which were used to help get the teenager in the most recent incident out.

"It's a spreader that we were able to insert into the area, open it up just enough -- I'm talking maybe a half inch or an inch," Skaggs said. "Enough to free it up so we could then get him out."

The jaws weigh 47 pounds, have a spreading capacity of 16,950 pounds, and a compression capacity of 14,400 pounds, according to Skaggs.

The teenager was not hurt, but nevertheless, Skaggs explained there is no reason someone should find themselves down in a storm drain.

"These are very dangerous situations that you're putting yourself into," he said. "These were not meant for human habitation. Storm drains are for water -- not people."