Rescuers were called to a home in Wellington, Ohio, on Saturday after a report that a 3-year-old boy had fallen into a septic tank. When fire crews arrived on the scene, they discovered that the boy’s father was clinging to his son to prevent him from falling deeper into the tank.
According to Newsnet5.com, Rex Wlodyka was playing in the family’s backyard with his 4-year-old brother when he fell down the 8-inch pipe. The brother alerted their father right away and his father was able to reach down into the pipe, holding Rex’s hand to keep him from slipping farther into the tank until rescuers arrived.
Police said that two-thirds of Rex’s body had fallen into the pipe.
When a South Lorain County ambulance crew arrived, they took over for the father and secured the child so he wouldn’t slide deeper into the pipe.
Police and firefighters immediately went to work to try to dislodge the boy from the pipe. Firefighters first dug around the pipe and cut it back to give themselves more room to maneuver around the area so they could get to Rex. It took them nearly 25 minutes just to get to the top of his head. Thirty-four minutes after dispatchers received the call, the boy was pulled from the septic tank.
He was cleaned up at the scene and life flighted to MetroHealth Medical Center.
Rex’s mother, Sarah Wlodyka, got a call from her husband saying, “Rex fell in the septic tank.”
“I literally just crumbled and started screaming because I thought he was dead,” Sarah Wlodyka told The Chronicle.
She immediately rushed the the hospital to be with Rex. “I saw them carrying a very smelly, poop-covered child through the hall, and I could smell him before I even saw him,” Sarah Wlodyka said. “We took him to the showers, and it took probably 45 minutes of scrubbing to get close to all of it off, but he was fine. He had a scratch on his shoulder and a scratch on his shin.”
“I can’t imagine my life without Rex in it,” she said.
He was treated for hypothermia and a few scratches and released from the hospital.
Fire Chief Mike Wetherbee said the father saved his son’s life.
“More than likely he would have continued to slide … the outcome would not have been good,” Wetherbee said. “Really we were lucky in many ways.”
Wellington firefighters and town officials worked together to replace and cap the pipe, backfilling the hole around it to prevent further accidents.