CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Rescue crews searched Tuesday for a teenager who was swept away in a Cedar Rapids storm drain after heavy rainfall overwhelmed the eastern Iowa city's storm sewer system.
Logan Blake, 17, was swept away by the fast-moving water in the drain at an elementary school around 7:20 p.m. Monday, said city public safety communications coordinator Greg Buelow. He did not explain how the teenager ended up in the drain.
Early Tuesday, Cedar Rapids Fire Department Battalion Chief Brian Gibson said Tuesday that he still considered the operation a rescue mission. The storm sewer drains into Cedar Lake, and fire department crews were using sonar and boats to search the body of water. Police officers searched along the path of the pipe by foot.
Blake's father, Mark Blake, told ABC news that the family was holding out hope that he would be found alive.
"He's a strong kid, a very athletic kid," he said. "He's got a strong will. We have every faith in the world that he's hooked on and waiting for the current to slow down."
David Bliss, 17, tried to save Blake but was also dragged into the drain, Buelow said. That teen traveled along the drain for more than a mile, eventually emerging in Cedar Lake. The boy walked to a hospital and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, Buelow said.
Buelow said the storm drain feeds into an underground concrete pipe about 4 1/2 feet wide at the school's culvert entrance. That pipe runs about a mile and a half southwest and is 10 feet in diameter where it empties into Cedar Lake.
Rescuers have so far been unable to enter the underground sewer system because of the dangerously fast current, but they will assess the situation as the day progresses to see if those conditions ease, Gibson said.
Crews meanwhile are using cameras to search the confined spaces, Buelow said.
Recent heavy rainfall has overwhelmed the storm sewer system in many parts of Cedar Rapids, causing water to rise in the streets and rush through neighborhoods. The sanitary sewer system also became overwhelmed and overflowed.
A band of strong storms washed across the Midwest on Monday evening. Police said a man in northern Indiana was killed when a tree fell onto a trailer home and another died when strong winds caused a building to collapse in eastern Iowa. The raging storms left hundreds of thousands of people without power across Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.