2-Year-Old Boy Saved by Mother After He Falls 7 Feet Into Manhole at N.J. Playground

After falling into the manhole, the toddler sat in two feet of water up to his chin and was almost pulled down the sewage tunnel

manhole in park
A manhole in a park. Photo: Getty

A mother jumped into action when her 2-year-old boy fell into a manhole at a playground in New Jersey.

The toddler and his mom, whose identities have not been released, were enjoying Kawameeh Park in Union on Thursday when the scary incident unfolded, Chief Michael Scanio with the Union Fire Department (UFD) confirms to PEOPLE.

Around 10:45 a.m., the boy fell approximately seven feet down into an open manhole while playing with his mother, Scanio says.

The manhole had two feet of sewage water at the bottom, which was up to the boy's chin, and soon began to pull him down the tunnel to a small area, Scanio says.

Thinking quickly, the mother — who was on the phone with 911 — jumped into the hole and grabbed her son before managing to pull them both out, according to Scanio.

By the time the UFD arrived, the child and his mother were already out of the manhole.

Neither had any apparent physical injuries, but Scanio notes that the boy may have ingested some sewer water. The pair were evaluated by Union EMS before being taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution.

Following the incident, other members of the UFD said they were impressed by the mom's heroic actions.

"I think when your child is in a situation like that, you'll do anything possible to save them," Anthony Schmidtberg with the UFD said, according to WABC. "So, it was more amazing that she was able to get them both out because there is no access ladder out there. She must've gripped onto the ledge and jumped out of there."

Schmidtberg added: "The mother was... soaked, crying, very upset, but nothing physically that was wrong with them, and she treated them on scene."

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At this time, it is unclear why the manhole was not covered. Scanio says it is believed the cover may have blown off during Hurricane Ida, which came through on Sept. 1.

"You just have to be careful," Schmidtberg told WABC. "Watch where you step, check, especially if there is a storm. You should never go when you cannot see it... these things do pop up, and you can fall and you're not going to be able to get back out."

Union County Police, Union County Department of Public Works (DPW) and Union DPW all arrived at the scene after the incident and began checking all the manholes in the park, according to Scanio.

He says DPW will be checking other locations within Union Township that may have been affected and county police will be checking the remainder of the parks in the county.

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