Toddlers have a propensity for getting into trouble, even when you think there is no danger around.
Kristie Mendes thought she had left her 14-month-old son in a safe location (a gated part of the hallway) while she stepped away to use the bathroom at her home in Connecticut last week.
When the mom of one returned, however, her son, Elijah, was nowhere to be found, but she could hear him screaming for help.
It turns out that the curious 14-month-old somehow managed to open an air vent cover and travel down the ventilation shaft, feet first. He fell 12 feet before getting stuck in a narrow part of the duct. Elijah escaped the incident with only minor injuries, but his mother has an important warning for parents: Make sure vent covers are screwed down tightly.
Mendes immediately called 911 for help and was also joined by Elijah’s grandmother Naomi Irizarry, who lives in the apartment next door, according to WTNH News.
According to Irizarry, her terrified grandson was yelling, “Save me, save me,” and the two women were more than relieved when a dozen emergency responders arrived soon after and were able to rescue little Elijah within 20 minutes.
“The baby was in a position where his hands were over his head, and he was in a position where he couldn't get them back down," Tom Martin, of the Waterford Fire Department, told WABC. "He was sandwiched from the front and from his backside and had room on the sides. His head was kind of pinned in there," he explained.
The workers accessed the crawlspace below the home and cut through the duct work with power tools. Elijah suffered only minor scrapes, including abrasions on his stomach and legs.
Mendes hopes that her story can serve as a warning to other parents. She told WABC that she wants “to help people be aware that it can happen,” and she plans to buy new gates for the air vents in her home and screw them down securely.