Just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters received a call that a 14-year-old boy was stuck in the water at Pope Park.
When they arrived, they saw the victim trapped in the middle of a culvert in the Park River. His back was to a concrete median. First responders say the recent thunderstorms caused the water to move swiftly, making it a challenging rescue.
"It's as dangerous as it can be," said Hartford Deputy Fire Chief James York. "It must have been luck that he was able to kind of wedge himself on this concrete abutment."
First responders hoped that luck would hold out as they worked to bring him to safety. Hartford firefighters say the boy told them he was playing on the side of the bank when he slipped and fell into the water. Moving carefully, they threw ropes and a life jacket to reach the teen.
"At any point during the operation, during his attempt to get the rope or the life jacket he could have simply been washed into the underground section of the channel," said York.
The teen was stuck right where the Park River goes from uncovered to covered, meaning if he lost his grip, he's be swept underground.
After more than half an hour, crews are able to bring that teen to shore. The fire department says he was taken to Connecticut Children's for evaluation but had no obvious signs of injury.
It was a tense situation that ended safely thanks to the work of first responders.
"It was dangerous to the first responders. Fortunately, we have training and equipment that mitigates some of that risk," said York.
Officials say it's an important reminder for everyone to keep their distance from culverts.