Sunday, June 24, 2012

VIDEO: Boy survives harrowing mile-long ride in storm drain during floods


An 8-year-old boy survived being swept into a Minnesota drain tunnel filled with rushing water and surfaced in a creek about a mile away. While he was under, it was his mother that was on his mind. "Mom, I thought I lost you," Kenny Markiewicz told his mother, Amber Markiewicz, when they were reunited, she said. "I did what you told me to do. I plugged my nose, I took a breath and I prayed." Less than an hour earlier, Markiewicz feared that she had lost her youngest child. The family had travelled from their Louisiana home to Proctor, Minn., to visit relatives. Proctor is a small town about eight miles southwest of Duluth, a city that has suffered record rainfall this week resulting in its worst floods since the 1970s.

On Wednesday afternoon, it was not raining and the street where the family was staying was not flooded. Kenny and his cousin went outside, walked a few houses down and approached what looked like a regular puddle. "I never ever let my child leave my sight. This was a split second," Markiewicz said. "He just was going across by the puddle and, apparently, there was a culvert or a pipe there and he fell in. We heard my niece scream that and we opened the door, ran down the hill and dialed 911." Markiewicz said that she couldn't see a manhole so she went into the water. "I'm feeling around and then I felt it," she said. "I could feel the rush of water." What she felt was a culvert - a pipe that allows water to flow underground. Because of the recent flooding, the drain was filled with surging water.

Ann Reyelts, a witness, said that frantic bystanders were moving boulders and lifting manholes in hopes of finding Kenny underground. "I just wanted to whip out my super powers and rip up the road," Reyelts said. Despite the efforts, 4-foot-3, 63-pound Kenny was nowhere to be seen and his mother was panicking. "I was frantic," Markiewicz said through tears. "I was going after my son, no matter what the cost. I would have given my life." While some people have told her the ordeal lasted about 20 minutes, she said, "To me, it felt like an eternity." Eventually, a policeman came and told her that a little boy named Kenny had been found and he said he wanted his mom. Markiewicz rushed to a police car to be driven to her son. "All I could think was, 'Oh my God, he came this far,'" she said of the drive.

About a mile away, Gordon Marshall had been at home when he heard a noise. "I heard this shrieking screaming, [it] kind of shakes me up because I got 10 grandkids," Marshall said. He went outside to check the creek behind his house and spotted a little boy "bleeding from the head down." "He was lost, petrified, scared to death," Marshall said. "The first thing I think I said to him is, 'Are you alright? Do you know where you're at?' He didn't. He just screamed." Marshall took the little boy into his house, called for help, bandaged his head and put a blanket around him until police came with his mother. "I just got out of the car and I ran. I just saw my child and my hero," Markiewicz said. "[Kenny] was worried about me. He just goes, 'I knew I had to find you,'" Markiewicz said, crying. She said the situation was an "unreal" miracle and she felt "overwhelmed, relieved, happy." In addition to the cut on the back of his head, Kenny had some bruises and abrasions but was going to be fine. His mother said that he remained a little shaken but joked that he's already getting tired of talking about the experience.

32-pound, 10-year-old found locked in Mo. closet


A Kansas City woman was charged Saturday with abusing her 10-year-old daughter who weighed just 32 pounds when she was found locked in a closet that reeked of urine.
The 29-year-old woman faces charges of assault and child abuse and endangerment in Jackson County Circuit Court. The Associated Press is not naming the mother to protect the child's identity. Prosecutors are requesting that bond be set at $200,000.
Officers freed the girl after responding Friday morning to a call to a child abuse hotline. Neighbors told police that they didn't know the malnourished child taken from the public housing complex even lived there.
When officers first arrived, two women told the officers that the mother had left about 20 minutes earlier with two girls, whom they described as "clean and well fed," a Kansas City officer said in the probable cause statement.
A social services worker said there should be three children at the home. But the women insisted, "No, we have lived here for several years, and she only has two daughters that stay here, and we have never seen the other girl, but we heard she stays with the father or an aunt," the probable cause statement said.
Officers ultimately made their way into the apartment, where they found a portable crib pushed up against a bedroom closet, which was tied closed. The officers asked if anyone was inside, and a child's voice answered "yes," the probable cause statement said.
The girl told officers that her mother took her sisters out to breakfast, but she didn't go because "she messes herself."
The girl was transported to a Children's Mercy Hospital, where she was diagnosed with multiple skin injuries. Hospital staff said she had gained just 6 pounds since she last was at the hospital six years earlier.
The girl told detectives who interviewed her at the hospital that her mother puts her in the closet "a lot," that she doesn't get to eat every day and that she "does not want to go back home anymore." The girl also said she gets in trouble "because she keeps peeing on herself" and her mother will "punch her on her back real hard," according to the probable cause statement.
The mother was arrested later Friday and the two younger children were placed in protective custody. The mother told police she doesn't let the 10-year-old leave the house because she knows the girl is malnourished and would "get in trouble if someone saw her."
The mother's boyfriend, who is not the girl's father and hasn't been charged, said he hadn't seen the girl in about a year. He said that when he asked about her, the mother told him she was with her aunt or in her room because she was in trouble. He said he never knew the mother put the girl in the closet or "he would have done something about it," the probable cause statement said.

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