A man who was trapped 15ft (4.5m) underground for two days in a San Francisco Bay area storm pipe the width of a large pizza was rescued in an effort that lasted hours and involved at least 50 firefighters, police officers and rescue personnel, officials said Monday.
Officials freed the man from the 16in (40cm) pipe around 9.30pm on Sunday, said Steve Hill, spokesperson for the Contra Costa county fire protection district.
"When we finally got him out of the ground, he was beyond exuberant. He was beyond happy to be above ground," Hill said.
The man in his mid-30s was not injured but showed signs of dehydration and was taken to a hospital to be evaluated, Hill said.
Hill said the man entered the extensive storm water system intentionally and at one point reached the area of the narrow pipe and became stuck.
"He couldn’t get through and he couldn't go back," he said
The man told officials he had been trapped for about two days before passers-by heard his screams and called 911.
Somehow people passing by on a walking path some distance away from the storm water system managed to hear his cries for help. "That's fairly miraculous because it was pretty windy out there," Hill said.
The risky rescue operation involved four firefighters and rescue crew entering the underground space near Buchanan Road in Antioch from two directions.
The rescuers had to clear tree branches, garbage and other debris to reach the man, Hill said.
The man was responsive and communicated with rescue personnel the entire time.