A 12-year-old girl walking to school Tuesday morning fell 12 feet down an open sewer drain and was stuck there for about an hour before a man walking by heard her cries for help.
Grace Knox, a student at Southside Elementary School, was screaming for her mother when firefighters from Engine 25 arrived on South Legion Drive between Rutland and Melrose Streets, at about 8:30 a.m., according to Capt. Daniel O'Leary of the Buffalo Fire Department.
"She was screaming for her mom," O'Leary said.
The sewer cover was found several feet away from the opening in the grass. City officials later said that it had been "vandalized."
Grace's cell phone was also found on the ground near the opening.
The girl fell into about a foot of running water, fire officials said.
Firefighters lowered a ladder to her and she was able to climb up. Then firefighters pulled her to safety and her family was quickly located. Grace was taken by ambulance to Women and Children's Hospital, with her mother at her side.
It was lucky Grace was able to get on the ladder herself, O'Leary said, because the hole where she was trapped was a tight space.
Normally, Grace walks to school with her little brother, Jacob, said her stepfather Timothy Glab said. "He happened to be sick today," he said. "First time in two years. He doesn't miss school."
Jacob, 9, had tears in his eyes as he watched the firefighters and police on South Legion.
"Is a broken leg bad?" he asked his stepdad, who comforted him and assured him that it could have been a lot worse.