DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — An 8-year-old boy who was sucked into a culvert during record-setting rain in Duluth told his mom he just plugged his nose and prayed during a dark, six-block ride that felt to him like 100 miles.
After hours of torrential rains subsided on Wednesday, Kenny Markiewicz and his 10-year-old cousin went outside to splash in the puddles — but the flooding created a deep pool near the culvert, and the sewer's powerful current sucked him in.
His mother, Amber Markiewicz, told the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/MEUMiS ) that she heard Kenny's cousin scream and ran to investigate. She called 911 and jumped into the water, and felt the draw of rushing water into the 2 ½ foot opening.
The boy was pushed through the culvert system underground for a third of a mile before he was spit out in a wooded area near a mobile home park. When reunited with his mom, he told her: "I plugged my nose, I took a breath and I prayed."
Kenny was discovered by Gordon Marshall, a nearby resident who heard Kenny's shouts and saw him walking through the woods. Marshall said the boy was bloodied and "in a daze."
Doctors told Markiewicz that Kenny suffered some deep cuts, bruises and a concussion.
The boy doesn't remember much of what happened, but said he heard his mother's voice as she shouted into the culvert. He said it was dark and that it felt as though he traveled "100 miles."
Markiewicz called her son's survival a "miracle."
"This could have ended in a much different . just saying to other parents, even if it looks like the water is calm — it could be just a puddle on the side of the road — you don't know what's under there," Markiewicz said.
The Markiewicz family lives in Lake Charles, La., and they were in Duluth on vacation, staying with family.
She praised those who came to her son's aid.
"The community here, the people, the prayers, people going above and beyond, the man who found my son — there are no words," she said. "I don't know where they came from, but people were jumping in the water. These people are amazing. This restores my faith."
Kenny said of the experience: "I hate that ride."
Information from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.