Girl rescued by firefighters after falling through grate in Plainfield

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It was scary scene for a group of seventh graders from Ira Jones Middle School in Plainfield.

During gym glass at about 10 a.m. Friday, students were outside running laps around this retention basin, when a 12-year-old girl tripped over a drain, and fell about 12 feet down.

“All of a sudden you just see someone fall into this hole. You didn’t see them come back and you saw kind of like arms flailing in the air and it was just all kinds of scary and overwhelming," said witness and student Lily Summers.

Witnesses say the girl was trying to catch a softball when she tripped over the drain behind her. She landed on the drain’s grates, and those steel grates gave way.

The 12-year-old landed in about 2 feet of water, and it didn’t take long, before a male classmate tried to come to her rescue.

“He tried to go save her. He tried lift up the things so she could get out or talk, but he would have fallen in and maybe even hurt her more so he just climbed out,” said student and witness Mekenzie Smith.

Smith continued: “People said that she was saying like ‘Help! I can’t breathe!’ I think it was just because she was hyperventilating at that moment, but once the paramedics came she started talking to them saying, ‘I’m ok.’”

Firefighters say that hole was about 4 feet around and the student was talking and alert when they arrived.

School officials and emergency responders say the student just missed a concrete wall that divides the drain in two.

“There’s a concrete divider that runs top to bottom on ones side of the divider is a ladder and on the other side, there is not, so this young lady feel down the side that did not have the ladder, which is why we needs to call in police and fire to get her out,” said Tom Hernandez, Plainfield school district director of communications.

The school district claims responsibility for that drain, which sits on the school’s campus.

“Our staff have been working with municipal employees as well to re-secure the grate that covers this drain, and if we find similar conditions elsewhere, we’ll make sure they’re secured as well.”

Crews worked throughout the day welding the grates together and bolting them to the concrete drain.

"It was all kind of scary because she didn’t do anything wrong and that could have happened to anyone of us," Summers said.

The 12-year-old who endured this whole ordeal is now resting at home with a few bumps and bruises.

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3 comments

  • P.Smythe

    She wasn’t playing for recess they were running laps outside during PE, there were several gym teachers out there with them but it is impossible to keep an eye on every single student at every single moment. Accidents happen, there should have been cones over the grate to deter students from running over it but at least she is safe with only a minor injury.

  • Lisa B.

    How do you have something like that on school property, knowing the kids are often near it, and not do everything you can to secure the grate? A 12 year old girl doesn’t weigh that much, so it was obviously pretty unstable if she was able to fall through it. Complete negligence on the school’s part. Good thing her injuries weren’t worse.