A 14-month-old is recovering from minor injuries after falling down a ventilation shaft of a home in Waterford, Connecticut, on Tuesday morning.
First responders say they received a 911 call around 7:30 a.m. after 14-month-old Elijah Irizarry fell down a ventilation shaft and was stuck between the first and second floor of a home on Woodbine Street.
Irizarry's mom, Kristie Mendes, said she got up to go to the bathroom and her son was gated in. She said she heard screaming and ran into the room, but didn't see Irizarry at first until she looked down and saw him in the vent.
"He was all the way down and I could only see his head and his shoulders and his hands were up and he was trying to reach, but he was too far down," Mendes said.
When firefighters from the Goshen, Jordan and Cohanzie Fire Companies arrived, they say they found Irizarry had fallen approximately 12 feet into a 90-degree elbow of the shaft. The child was conscious and alert.
"It was extremely, extremely scary. He was screaming the whole time. He was screaming 'Mommy' and he was screaming 'Daddy' and he kept looking up trying to reach, but I couldn't reach him," Mendes said.
Firefighters accessed the crawl space below the home and used equipment to disassemble the home's ventilation duct work.
According to first responders, Irizarry was extricated by 8:04 a.m., which was within 20 minutes of when firefighters arrived.
Officials say Irizarry appeared to have very minor injuries, including abrasions on his stomach and legs. The baby was treated by Waterford EMS and a Lawrence + Memorial paramedic before being transported to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.
"Everyone said it was a miracle because just afterwards he was OK. It is a miracle and I'm so thankful for all the cops that helped, the firefighters, the EMTs, everyone that was here," Mendes said.
Firefighters said it's a good idea for parents to regularly check the grates covering vents in their homes to make sure they are secure. Mendes said she was headed to the store to buy new tops for all the grates in their home.