CREATED Aug. 2, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The City of Fort Myers' Public Works Department will be investigating storm water drains throughout the city after a five-year-old boy survived being carried through one last night. The boy was playing in the rain near the drainage pipe on the corner of Avocado Drive and Florida Avenue last night when he felled in the pipe. The water carried him 300 yards through the pipe, dumping him into the Caloosahatchee River.
"It's just amazing he went through something like that," said drainage expert Derrick Vasquez with Sewer Viewer Inc. "We see this everyday but we've never heard of this happening."
The boys' father, Brian Just, released a statement saying his son is doing well and is recovering from minor injuries from the accident. He thanked responders and the City for its response.
"We are also encouraged to hear that the City of Fort Myers was so quick to respond with an investigation of the drainpipe. We are blessed to live in such a great community," the statement said.
This morning, crews installed two bars across the drain to avoid similar accidents from happening in future.
Richard Moulton, Operations Superintendent for the City of Fort Myers, said this was the immediate response, but further evaluation will likely follow.
"As we do an evaluation of the structure, we may take up a more comprehensive approach to look at what needs to be done," he said. "Our goal this morning was to make sure at this particular circumstance we have done everything we can to address it and not have it be something that could happen tonight in that location."
Moulton said he understands parents' concers about the safety of the drainage systems, but said the drainage system is safe as long as kids aren't near them.
"These particular set of circumstances highlight if kids are in the area and are playing in the water, there is the possibility for them to get hurt," Moulton said. "We have to look into those possibilities and at least evaluate them to see what needs to be done long and short term."
Moulton did not have an estimate on the number of similar drainage pipes in the area or how long the evaluation process will take.
Neighbor Tina Tufariello said she'd like to see bars installed across each of the drainage openings.
"It's just a huge risk that small children, animals, anything is suseptible to getting sucked through there," she said.