Monday, April 12th 2021, 9:15 am - 'All I had to tell myself was that I was going to get out,' said 12-year-old Samuel Desjardins
Samuel Desjardins was on his way home from playing basketball with a friend on Saturday in Thompson, Man., when he took a step into a puddle that plunged him into frigid, waist-deep water.
That puddle, which the pair decided to wade through in their boots as a way to bypass the muddier sidewalk in the city's Riverside area, turned out to be hiding a sinkhole.
Samuel's friend tried to help him out, but it was no use — he was starting to get sucked in, too. The boys were able to flag down a woman who ran to Samuel's house and told his parents what happened.
"I had no idea what that really meant. You just kind of envision your kid stuck, like maybe up to his knee, if anything," Samuel's mom, Julie Desjardins, said on Sunday.
Samuel's dad, Paul, said he didn't quite understand what he was looking at when he found his son stuck in the hole around 4:30 p.m.
"When I got there, I thought it was kind of funny. I was wondering, like, 'How did you get in that deep?'" he said. "It was a definite change to the weekend."
Paul wasn't able to pull his son out, either. He called emergency services, which sent out two ambulances and a fire truck within five minutes.
Crews work to free Samuel from the sinkhole as his friend looks on. (Julie Desjardins/Facebook)
By the time those crews arrived, Samuel had already been in the sinkhole for about a half hour. He said he couldn't feel the bottom of the hole — just the pressure of his right leg being sucked down further.
"All I had to tell myself was that I was going to get out, it was going to be over, because I knew that it would," Samuel said.
"There was a bunch of people there, helping me, and joking also helped me keep myself calm, instead of thinking about what was happening."
In a Facebook post, the Thompson Professional Firefighters Association said Samuel kept his cool while crews worked to get him out.
"Many other kids may [have] panicked. Instead you maintained your calm attitude and sense of humour," the post said.
Samuel Desjardins, 12, keeps his cool as he waits for help after getting stuck in a sinkhole on his way home on Saturday. (Julie Desjardins/Facebook)
Emergency crews spent another half hour trying to free Samuel, but even they started getting stuck in the mud, Paul said.
"They were pulling hard to try to get him out, but he wasn't moving at all," he said.
That's when they called for the city's vacuum truck, which was finally able to help get him out after over an hour stuck in the sinkhole.
By then, Samuel was shivering uncontrollably, Julie said.
SEE: SIX SINKHOLE FACTS YOU DIDN'T LEARN IN SCHOOL
After some time wrapped up in blankets and heat packs in the ambulance — plus a warm bath at home — his body temperature finally came back to normal, she said.
And while Samuel will be on crutches for a few days because of some soft tissue injuries in his right leg, Julie said their family is grateful for how quickly crews worked to get her son to safety.
"It's only as we were thinking about it later that we started to realize how this could have had a completely different ending, if he had been a smaller child, or if his left leg hadn't been resting on something that prevented him from going deeper," she said.
A cold, wet Samuel Desjardins starts to warm up after an hour in the sinkhole, pulled free by emergency crews in Thompson and the city's vacuum truck. (Julie Desjardins/Facebook)
This article was originally published by CBC News and written by Caitlyn Gowriluk