It was 7:20 pm on Monday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when seventeen-year-old Logan Blake was washed down the storm drain after heavy flooding. According to KWWL, he and his friends were on their way to play frisbee before the rapids took him away. His friend David Bliss, also seventeen, had tried to help only to be swept in along with him. Thankfully, however, Bliss was found alive, more than a mile away with non-life-threatening injuries (via NBC News). Jacob Spurrell, a third teen that was with them, ran to get help.
The search for Logan Blake began that night after he went missing, though they were initially unable to go into the storm drain system due to the unsafe conditions (via KCCI News). The help the Blakes were able to get for their missing family member consisted of more than 60 volunteers who searched the length of the pipe, along with the fire department who used sonar and divers to search the lake nearby, where the family hoped they would find Logan, says Star Tribune. The boy’s body was found 75 feet from shore. “The family is very grateful for all the volunteers who have come here,” Cedar Rapids Fire Department Chaplain Dr. Jim Coyle told NBC News. “Unfortunately, it was not a good result today.”
The tragic incident has raised questions about the safety of the storm drain in question. According to Star Tribune, Ken MacKenzie, a committee chair for the National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies, any storm drain wider than 48 inches should have had a grate:
If there was a 54-inch diameter pipe next to an elementary school without a safety grate on the inlet, that was a dangerous situation that could have been prevented.
There is some minor pushback in the form of Craig Hanson, who is the the director of the Cedar Rapids public works department. According to him, that storm drain has been there for many years, and up until this point there have been no problems. He claims that, in fact, there had been contemplation of covering the storm drain with a grate, but that idea was nixed due to concern over it becoming clogged and flooding the neighborhood.
Flooding concerns aside, the city will likely have a lot to answer for in the name of safety before its citizens feel safe again.
[Image Credit: NBC News]