The following is from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Facebook Page
On Sunday, Jan. 8, at about 1:30 pm, the Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the 100 block of Holohan Rd. in Watsonville for a little boy who had fallen into a drainage ditch and was being pulled underwater. The 11-year-old boy had gone for a walk with his mom, 15 year old brother and another adult to survey the area near their home for potential flooding.
What happened next was nearly every parent’s nightmare …
Near their home was an agricultural field and drainage ditch. The water flowed openly in the ditch until it entered a culvert which directed the flow of water beneath the ground. The culvert was several feet wide at its opening and not readily visible because the level of the water was near the level of the surrounding ground. Due to rain runoff, floating debris had gathered near the opening of the culvert which gave the appearance of the surrounding ground.
Curious about the depth of the water, the little boy used a stick and stepped forward to dip the stick into the water. Unknowingly, the little boy stepped onto floating debris and fell into the water at the mouth of the culvert.
Luckily, the boy’s older brother was standing nearby and immediately grabbed him after he fell in, preventing him from being pulled into the submerged culvert. The boy’s mother and friend ran over and almost immediately, the mother’s adult friend fell into the water nearly the same way the boy did. The boy’s brother dialed 911 while holding onto him.
Deputy Erbe, who was not far away, quickly drove to the area where the boy was clinging to his brother, took off his duty belt and jumped into the water to help. Deputy Erbe held onto the boy and fought the pressure of the water that was trying to pull the boy into the culvert. The pressure of the water could have easily pulled an adult under.
Fire Department and other Sheriff’s Office personnel arrived and some fell into the water the same way the boy had. Luckily, everyone was able to be pulled from the water and the boy was reunited with his mother.
This situation could have gone far worse had it not been for the quick thinking of the boy’s older brother and those that responded to help.
We are currently trying to assist the farmland owner with identifying a solution to this hazard to prevent anything like this from happening again.
With the rain we have gotten lately, we urge all residents to stay clear of standing or moving water. In this case, what was thought to be land was nothing more than floating sticks and debris. Please be careful and share this information with your children.
— Santa Cruz County Sheriff
Precautions during storms in Santa Cruz County
- Be careful of driving through running water on country roads because it may be deeper it looks and could cause the engine to stop or even flood your car.
- Be aware of trees that are starting to lean on or close to your property or along roads that you drive on.
- Do not try to float on or to cross local streams and stay away from stream banks.
- Stay 60 feet or more away from fallen wires and call 911.