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Boy, 5, Falls Into Manhole

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 5-year-old boy fell into an uncovered manhole on Lead SE and found himself submerged in sewage, his family says.

The family said a relative dived in after the boy, and both ended up swallowing sewage before going to the hospital. The ordeal happened over the New Year’s holiday. The child and relative were in the hole about a minute, they said.

“The police officer who responded to our call discovered that another manhole was not covered either,” a family member said in a statement to the Journal. “The covers were sitting next to the manholes.”

How they got that way isn’t clear.

Michael Riordan, Albuquerque’s director of municipal development, said crews working at the site report that when they left on Friday, “all barricades were in place and manholes were covered.”

In any case, he said the area is an obvious construction site, with signs notifying people that the sidewalks and roadway are closed. During construction, the manholes are covered with 50- to 60-pound metal sheets and two orange barrels, he said.

Riordan asked the public to “please be patient with us during our construction. Construction zones are inherently difficult to maneuver, and the people in there are trained professionals. We’d really appreciate it if people would stay out of our construction zones.”

The family, meanwhile, says the manholes appear to be constructed in such a way that someone who falls in might not be able to get out alone. The construction site — on Lead, near Girard — cuts through the neighborhood, the family said.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal