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13-year-old Los Angeles boy found ‘alive and talking’ in sewer system

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A 13-year-old boy who fell into an underground system of sewage pipes in Los Angeles on Sunday was found alive despite the toxic environment he encountered, an official said Monday.

Jesse Hernandez, 13, is seen in a photo shared by Los Angeles fire officials on April 1, 2018.

Jesse Hernandez, 13, is seen in a photo shared by Los Angeles fire officials on April 1, 2018.

“It’s with happy hearts that all Los Angeles City agencies are able to state that we have found Jesse Hernandez,” Los Angeles Fire Department Captain Erik Scott said at an early morning news conference Monday.

Rescuers searched for more than 12 hours after Hernandez fell about 25 feet into a 4-foot diameter pipe while playing on top of a Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation structure in Griffith Park on Sunday.

Hernandez was found about a mile east of where he initially was reported missing in the 5200 block of Zoo Drive, near the Travel Town Museum, about 4:30 p.m.

A sanitation crew was opening up a maintenance hatch near where the 134 Freeway goes under the 5 Freeway to put in a camera as part of the search, “and that’s where we located Jesse Hernandez alive and talking,” Scott said.

The boy was given a cellphone to contact his parents after being pulled from the pipe. “As you can imagine, we’re overwhelmed with joy,” Scott said.

Hernandez is receiving medical aid and would be taken to a local hospital, Scott said.

The teen was playing with 4 to 6 other boys when he fell through what was described as a “wooden plank,” by Los Angeles Police Sgt. Bruno La Hoz.

"The plank gave, the wood broke, and the kid fell right through it,” La Hoz said shortly after the search for Hernandez began Sunday.

The sewage system is comprised of miles of enclosed pipes that stretch as far as the Los Angeles River and beyond, Scott said.