News - McHenry County

Girls rescued from Crystal Lake storm drain

Two entered system via an outlet pipe and got lost

Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department, with help from police, public works and residents, rescued two girls who entered a storm drain and got lost inside the system on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

Update available here: Crystal Lake girls rescued by mother’s boss, coworker

Two girls were rescued from a Crystal Lake storm drain Tuesday after friends who watched them go into an outlet pipe contacted adults who then called for help, a Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department battalion chief said.

Emergency responders were called about 5 p.m. to the area of Congress Parkway and Federal Drive, Battalion Chief Heidi Olsen said. The two girls, described as between 10 and 13 years old, had entered a large storm drain outlet pipe near a retention pond behind the Target at 5580 Northwest Highway.

The outlet pipe is partially covered by a grate, but has a 12- to 15-inch gap at the bottom, Olsen said.

“There were other children who knew they went in. When they didn’t come back out, they contacted adults,” Olsen said.

The two made it about 850 feet into the system and were lost, Olsen said. The two had cellphones but were not able to get a signal to call for help. Pinging the phones from above also was not successful.

Crystal Lake Fire and Rescue, with help from police, public works and residents, rescued two girls who entered a storm drain and got lost inside the system on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

“Through collaboration with fire, police and public works, and some assists from citizens, we were able to identify the layout of the storm system and different manhole covers,” she said. One of the residents was able to open up the right manhole cover and pull the girls out, Olsen said.

The girls were out of the storm sewer about 20 minutes after rescue crews were called, Olson said. Both were taken to area hospitals for evaluation with minor injuries, she said.

Olsen reminded both children and their parents that storm drains are not a safe place to explore or play.

“This was a dangerous situation and kids should know that it is not a safe place to venture into,” she said.