Youth enter sewers

Published 10:36 am Monday, July 21, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles City Fire Department was dispatched to the parking lot at Martin's Supermarket on South 11th Street in Niles Friday on a report indicating someone had entered the sewer system underneath the parking lot.
Firefighters were notified about the incident at 3:20 p.m.
Three juvenile males allegedly entered the sewer system through one of the parking lot's man-holes located close to South 11th Street.
The juveniles apparently crawled through the sewers and came out through a man-hole located behind Tangles Hair Salon's loading dock before two of them fled on bicycles.
Tangles Hair Salon is located at 728 S. 11th St.
Firefighters estimated the juveniles had crawled 200 yards through the sewers before they came to the exit.
Bruce Leach, fire marshall, Niles City Fire Department, said firefighters found two open man holes when they arrived at the parking lot.
He said firefighters initially tried to establish whether anyone were still in the sewer, but received no response.
He said crawling into the sewers is dangerous because anyone can suffer from a lack of oxygen because of the confined space they find themselves in.
Don Hughes, a city fire department driver, went down into the sewers and walked all the way to the exit the juveniles came out through.
Hughes went into the sewer with Rory Iwaniuk, a city fire fighter.
Hughes said unless the juveniles had a flashlight with them, they would have had to fumble their way through the sewer.
Like Leach, Hughes said it can be dangerous to enter the sewer system because the sewers are slick.
However, he also said because of recent lack of rain, gases that usually wouldn't form in the sewers may have been present.
He said the gases could have been created from oil leaks and gas from cars, as well as from animal feces.
The city fire department was assisted by City Engineers Office, who brought sewer layouts, Niles Township Fire Department and Niles City Police.
Leach estimated 20 people assisted in the effort.