Mother makes daring rescue to save toddler who fell into open manhole

A mother and her young son are now safe after the toddler fell into an open manhole in a Union County park, prompting the mother to jump in to save him.

News 12 Staff

Sep 23, 2021, 8:35 PM

Updated 944 days ago

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A mother and her young son are now safe after the toddler fell into an open manhole in a Union County park, prompting the mother to jump in to save him.
People who live near the park say that the manhole cover has been off since Ida flooded the park, and they are wondering why no one came to fix the issue until a child fell in.
“I have a 7-year-old daughter. We always go there to play in the park,” says Juan Flores, of Union.
Flores says that he hasn’t taken his children to Kawameeh Park, located a block away from his home, since Ida floodwaters forced manhole covers from at least two manholes. He says that he even reported the issue to the town on Monday.
“We called a couple of times and I’m pretty sure a lot of neighbors did too, because we have a lot of kids playing in this park. Nobody came and nobody closed the holes,” Flores says.
Officials say that the child, believed to be around 2 years old, was playing in the park when he fell in. The mother saved him before he was swept away.
“As she was on the phone with 911, he began to float down with the running sewer water. She dropped her phone, jumped in the hole and grabbed him before he got to the point in the sewer where she could not reach him,” says Lt. Chief Anthony Schmidtberg.
The mother and son were checked out by EMTs and then went to the hospital for further treatment. Both are expected to be OK.
Tamisha Baako lives across the street with her three children. She says that the park was badly flooded after Ida. She says that it is disappointing that it took an almost tragic accident to force action.
“There’s actually games here. Soccer teams play, lacrosse teams – there are so many events that happen at this park. The fact that it wasn’t looked at is a big oversight,” she says. “You come to the park to enjoy and have relaxation in this environment, and to have a devastating experience like that, it’s traumatizing for her and her son.”
News 12 New Jersey reached out to the Union Township administration for comment on the missing manhole covers, but did not hear back.


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