A man in south Nanaimo found himself in tight spot and had to be rescued by police and workers at a local transport company earlier this week.
Carl Savard and his co-workers arrived at their workplace on Tenth Street near Junction Avenue at at about 5:15 a.m. Monday, June 26, to hear someone calling for help. Savard said at first he thought the cries might have been coming from a nearby construction site.
“But then my co-worker shows me this manhole and there’s somebody screaming out from the manhole, ‘Help! Help!’” Savard said.
He grabbed his cellphone to record what was transpiring as he and his workmates went to see if the man, trapped in a manhole in the middle of the street, was all right.
“We made sure he’s OK. The guy seemed really thirsty. He said, ‘Give me some water. I need to get out. Help me out,’” Savard said. “But those manhole covers are pretty heavy and we didn’t know who this guy was, so we said let’s just call the cops and wait for them to arrive.”
Savard retrieved a pry bar and he and his two workmates and the RCMP officer were able to flip the heavy manhole cover open.
“Then they pulled the guy out and the guy wasn’t wearing any pants. He just had one shoe on and a [LED headlamp] around his neck,” Savard said. “So his first story was that some people put him in there and then it changed to his girlfriend pushed him in there and then it switched to it was already open and he fell in it.”
Savard said the man was cold and dirty, but otherwise apparently unharmed from his ordeal.
Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, said once freed, the man had little interest in waiting for paramedics, who’d been called to the scene to check him over.
“Other than being very cold and very wet, he was relatively uninjured,” O’Brien said. “After being wrapped up in a blanket and after his teeth stopped chattering, he was able to say that somebody had pushed him inside … After being wrapped up in a warm blanket, he walked away to live another day.”
O’Brien said police were unable to find any security camera video footage from nearby businesses that might have explained how the man came to be in the storm sewer.
Savard said he and his co-workers theorized the man may have crawled for unknown reasons into a storm culvert that had recently been installed as part of the nearby construction work, gotten disoriented, and lost his pants and shoe in the process.
“That’s what we’re thinking because the manhole cover was never lifted before. There was, like, sand and everything on there, so it would have been noticeable,” Savard said.