Big Bear Lake Fire Chief Rod Ballard tells KBHR that all 10 children in the storm drain have been recovered, and none of them needed medical attention—though they are getting a severe talking to. This afternoon, 10 seventh and eighth grade students from Big Bear Middle School entered the City’s drainage system at Veterans Park and, per Chief Ballard, traveled a good half-mile in the system, most of them ultimately ending up under Big Bear Boulevard at Main Street, across from the Big Bear Lake Fire Department. Recovery of the 10 prompted traffic delays on the Boulevard and required the efforts of 14 firefighters from the Big Bear Lake and Big Bear City Fire Departments, roughly eight Sheriff’s deputies from the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station, five of the City’s Public Works employees (to assist in the confined space entry), and the help of a passerby, who used his backhoe from Mile High Equipment to remove the storm drain cover. Just after 5pm, Chief Ballard tells us that six of the middle school students were pulled from the storm drain, two returned to the point of entry at Veterans Park, and two that emergency personnel had been looking for had exited the storm drain and gone home. Once again, all 10 children have been accounted for, and none are in need of medical attention. Ballard goes on to say, “I was the first to give them a lecture, and I was the polite one.” Students have since been lectured by law enforcement–and parents, who are converging at the Big Bear Lake Fire Department. Emergency personnel are considering seeking cost recovery, given the amount of personnel, and subsequent overtime costs associated with the recovery.
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