A Connecticut toddler is recovering after fire crews rescued him from an air conditioning and heating vent, which he fell down and became stuck inside on tuesday morning.
Fire fighters were called to the home just after 7:30 a.m. after the 14-month-old fell down the ventilation shaft.
The mother Kristie Mendes wants everyone to know what to watch out for after the worst moments of her life when her 14 month old son, Elijah Irizarry, fell 12 feet down a ventilation shaft
“I looked down, and I saw him in the vent. I just couldn’t breathe,” Mendes said.
Mendes said she had gone to the bathroom for a second while Elijah was in a gated area of the hallway at their home.
Somehow, the toddler got the vent cover off and fell in feet first through the narrow opening. He dropped 12 feet from the second floor down to the basement and became trapped in the ductwork.
“The baby was in a position where his hands were over his head, and he couldn’t get them back down. He was stuck from the front and from his backside but had room on the sides. His head was kind of pinned in there,” said Tom Martin with the Waterford Fire Department.
More than a dozen first responders cut through the ductwork and got the boy out within 20 minutes.
Surprisingly, Elijah suffered only minor scrapes.
“They did great, the first responders. Everyone that came in and helped to get him out, they worked great as a team,” Mendes said.
Elijah’s mother thinks the toddler used a coat hanger to lift off the cover. She says he had never done that before, and she always assumed the vent was screwed down.
She hopes this can be a teaching moment for all.
“Out of all of this, to help people be aware that it can happen, and like I’m doing today, I’m getting all new grates and screwing them all down,” Mendes said.
The fire department says this is a good opportunity for parents to inspect their vents.
Experts say if you have the type that don’t screw in, you should check them periodically to make sure the seal is tight. They are easily knocked loose by things like vacuum cleaners.