A 13-year-old boy was sucked a half a mile through a storm drain during flooding in Illinois — and miraculously survived with just a few scratches.
“It was raining, and we were just out here playing — I was going to grab a ball and went underneath,” teen Sebastian Calderon told Fox 2 Now of the flooding near his home in Marissa.
“When I first went in, I started to pray,” Sebastian said of his drama Saturday — the same day a 12-year-old St. Louis, Mo., girl died after her family’s car was sucked into a storm drain.
“It was pitch black, so I couldn’t see anything,” he said of the culvert.
A neighbor who witnessed Sebastian being swept away, Christy Stoddard, also fell into the water while rushing to help the boy. But she was pulled to safety by her husband before getting sucked into the drain, too.
The friend whom Sebastian had been playing with at the time, Xavier Trammeal, ran to get the teen’s mom.
“I was scared because I didn’t know what happened, and I didn’t know if he was going to be alive or not,” Xavier said of his pal.
But the quick-thinking Sebastian raised his hand while stuck underwater to find pockets of air that he could breathe as he intermittently surfaced while being sucked through the culvert.
“I just kept going … I just let it take me to the end,” he told KTVI of the flood.
Officials told KSDK that the boy traveled at least half a mile before emerging “alert and oriented” at the spot where a firefighter was waiting for him.
“I got scratches on my hands and knee, and that’s about it,” the teen told KTVI.
He said he also had some on the back of his head from being “banged down” when he “tried to go up and get a breath.”
Stoddard said flooding has been an ever-present danger in the area for at least six years.
“Anytime we get more than a couple inches of rain, this happens,” she said.
“A child almost dying — something has to be done.”
It was the same day Aaleya Carter, 12, died in St. Louis after her family’s car was sucked into a drainage system during flooding there. Her mother, brother and sister all survived.