The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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July 10, 2014

Iowa flooding 911 call: 'A boy went in the sewer'

CEDAR RAPIDS — A passing motorist tells authorities a "boy went in the sewer" and "his mother is yelling for him" during a 911 call that prompted a frantic search for two Iowa teenagers swept into an open storm drain during a flash flood. One died and the other survived.

The female driver made the June 30 call, obtained by The Associated Press under the public records law, after being stopped by a friend of 17-year-old Logan Blake of Cedar Rapids, whose body was found in a lake the next day.

"People have flagged me down and said a boy went in the sewer," the driver says. "A boy went in the sewer?" the dispatcher repeats, sounding surprised. "Yes," the driver affirms.

Authorities say both boys were in the city's storm sewer system by then. They say Blake was swept into a 54-inch open storm drain while playing Frisbee behind an elementary school, and 17-year-old David Bliss went in the drain to try to save his friend and was also swept in. A third friend, 16-year-old Jacob Spurrell, ran to tell Blake's mother at her nearby home that her son had vanished. He then had the driver call 911.

Noting the mother yelling in the background, the driver says, "I'm sitting in my car and they are outside the car trying to find this young boy."

When the dispatcher asked the driver whether she was sure the boy went in the sewer, she responded, "One of the people here said they watched him go in, they told him it was a bad idea, and he went anyway." It's unclear whether this comment was referring to Blake or to Bliss, who survived.

City spokesman Greg Buelow said the motorist did a great job relaying information to 911 about the incident, but that she may have been confused about what she was being told in a chaotic situation. Firefighters were sent to the scene, sparking an extensive 21-hour rescue operation that included searching Cedar Lake by boat and under manhole covers along the storm sewer route.

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