Illinois teen survives after being sucked into culvert

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MARISSA, Ill. (KTVI) — A 13-year-old Illinois boy miraculously survived being sucked into a culvert during heavy flooding on Saturday.

“It was raining and we were just out here playing, and I was going to grab a ball and then just went underneath,” said Sebastian Calderon, of Marissa, Illinois.

Sebastian said he was in what appeared to be steady water when he was sucked into the culvert.

“We were just right there trying to get the ball and he just went right in,” said Sebastian’s friend, Xavier Trammeal, who ran to tell Sebastian’s mom what had happened.

Neighbors Christy Stoddard and her husband witnessed the entire thing and ran to help.

“We’re sitting on the deck just kind of watching it, and it goes that quick,” she said. “So, we see the boys come through, and he says something about those kids are going to fall in that creek, and it was no sooner than that came out of his mouth when Sebastian went down and it was just chaos.”

Stoddard ended up falling into the creek herself, but luckily her husband was able to pull her out before she was sucked into the culvert. Then it became a waiting game with Sebastian’s life at stake.

“I was scared because I didn’t know what happened, and I didn’t know if he was going to be alive or not,” Xavier said.

Sebastian said it was pitch black in the culvert, and he couldn’t see anything.

“When I first went in, I started to pray…I kept using my hand to see if it was out of water so I could come up and get some breath,” he said. “Then I just kept going and at the end, I started seeing drains. I kept trying to grab onto them, but I couldn’t … Then I saw the end, so I just let it take me to the end.”

A fireman was waiting for Sebastian at the storm drain exit. Sebastian suffered a few bumps and bruises, but he survived.

“I got scratches on my hands and knee and that’s about it. And the back of my head,” he said. “When I tried to go up and get a breath, sometimes I just got banged down.”

Marissa residents say for the past six years, flooding in the area has become a danger to the community.

“Anytime we get more than a couple inches of rain, child almost dying. Something has to be done,” Stoddard said.

Earlier Saturday, 12-year-old Aaeleya Carter, of St. Louis, was swept away and was later found dead by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The community is thankful Sebastian survived, but residents are ready for local leaders to step up regarding the flooding that has become life-threatening.

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