After digging for hours, East Bay emergency crews succeeded in freeing a man stuck in a storm drain in Pinole late Friday night.
The three-hour rescue operation ended when crews removed a 27-year-old Richmond man from a pipe inside a storm drain adjacent to a Best Buy store at 1490 Fitzgerald Drive, Pinole fire Battalion Chief Brian Lowry said.
At about 8:30 p.m., Pinole police officers responded to a report by a passerby who heard muffled cries for help on the hillside next to Best Buy.
Pinole Police searched the steep slope and at 9:04 p.m., rescue crews located a man wedged inside a storm drain.
Crews from fire departments in Contra Costa, Richmond, Rodeo Hercules, Crockett Carquinez, and Pinole police, Pinole public works, and American Medical Response arrived at the scene and determined that the man was lodged feet-first inside a 12-inch corrugated steel drain pipe attached to a 5-foot deep storm drain catch basin, Lowry said.
Fire crews entered the storm drain and unsuccessfully attempted to pull the man out the way he entered, Lowry said.
A fire crew consisting of about 28 personnel excavated the storm drain, uncovering 12 linear feet of drainpipe.
The drainpipe was ventilated throughout the process. He was given oxygen and water down the pipe while crews cut the steel pipe below him.
Just after midnight crews managed to safely remove the man from the storm drain, Lowry said.
He was lowered down the steep incline with rope to paramedics, Lowry said.
“He was agitated, and a bit altered, I imagined dehydrated. Hypothermia was setting in [since] it was a cold night,” said Lowry.
The man sustained minor shoulder abrasions from being wedged in the drain for more than four hours. He was also treated for hypothermia and dehydration at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, according to Lowry.
The rescued man told fire crews that he was transient and had entered the catch basin to stay warm in the past.
The man was not able to say why he went into the narrow drainpipe or how long he had been trapped before he was found, Lowry said.
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