What looked to be a fun -- albeit messy -- afternoon unexpectedly turned into a near-death experience for 14-year-old Ohio resident Jeff LaPorta.
In an interview with 'Good Morning America,' LaPorta described riding his bike through puddles created by a heavy rainstorm that had swept through his hometown of Parma, Ohio earlier in the day. One of the puddles, which LaPorta says he fell into, turned out to be a deep creek that carried him into a drain pipe and then nearly a mile underground.
"I heard a splash, turned around and the bike was falling in and I ran over here and started yelling for him," LaPorta's friend Miguel Torres told ABC's Newsnet 5.
"It was dark, it was scary, it was nasty,” LaPorta recalled to GMA. “It was like somebody is putting you in a big whirlpool and spinning you around and getting your head knocked on the ground.”
In an interview with NBC affiliate WKYC, LaPorta says he started praying and began saying goodbye to his mom and dad, thinking that he was going to die.
But eventually, LaPorta says he took a deep breath and decided to stay put, determined not to give up.
Meanwhile, his friend, Miguel Torres, called on the Parma fire department for help. "I started thinking the worst,” Torres said.
The firefighters, determined to save LaPorta, searched manhole cover after manhole cover and eventually pulled him out of one across the street from a gas station parking lot. The ordeal lasted about an hour, LaPorta said.
"In my head I'm like, 'Thank you, Lord.' I was praying," said LaPorta. "I'm the luckiest person in the world," he told Channel 5.
According to a statement to WKYC, "The City departments of Law, Service and Engineering are meeting to assess the site to see what remedial measures should be taken."
In May, Seattle teen William Hickman survived an equally harrowing ordeal, getting swept down a waterfall into the Washington state river and landing on a 1-foot-wide rock shelf where he waited for eight and a half hours until rescuers were able to save him.Ten rescuers who found Hickman standing on the rock, wet and hypothermic, camped with the teenager overnight, throwing him dry clothes and food and setting up a rigging that would allow them to rescue him the next day.