Rescue teams in Wisconsin found an 11-year-old boy trapped in a sewer on Tuesday, spotting the little boy’s finger poking through a manhole in Harrison after he was swept away about 30 feet in floodwaters, PEOPLE confirms.
The boy, whose name hasn’t been made public, was playing near a retention pond with friends on Tuesday in Harrison County when he became “curious” and went into the water. As flood water drained into the basin, the little boy was quickly sucked in.
“His friends were trying to hang on to him and trying to pull him back out,” Harrison Fire Rescue Chief Amos Mikkelson tells PEOPLE. “An adult came along and tried to hang on to him, but the suction was too great and it pulled him into the sewer.”
Rescue teams were quickly on the scene, with about 40 firefighters and first responders looking for the child. Authorities searched the area along with the boy’s parents. Mikkelson says the boy’s mother and father appeared to begin to lose hope as the search stretched over 40 minutes.
Just as authorities were preparing to call in a dive team, a “miracle” occurred, Mikkelson says.
“[Firefighters] were standing on a manhole cover and that’s when they saw the little boy’s finger sticking through the manhole cover,” Mikkelson tells PEOPLE. “Once they saw the little finger, they could hear him calling for help.”
Authorities used heavy equipment to lift the manhole cover and a pair of firefighters, along with the boy’s father, pulled the child from the ground. Mikkelson says the boy looked relieved to be found.
“The first thing [the firefighters] saw was a smile,” the chief recalls. “He was breathing, he was happy to be rescued. As you can imagine, he was jubilant. His condition was really just bumps and bruises and scrapes.”
The boy’s father began “bear-hugging” the child, Mikkelson says, noting that the boy was taken to a local emergency room and released.
“[His parents] were ecstatic,” he adds to PEOPLE. “When that little finger poked through, everyone that was standing there was just like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ Just really happy, everybody. You could feel it. You could feel the relief everybody had. This was really a miracle.”
Mikkelson says the boy and his friends learned a valuable lesson that day: “These ponds present dangers and it’s not a place for playing.”