Boy falls into open manhole in West Philadelphia

July 27, 2010 "Right here on my head."

4-year old Samaje Stewart has a bump on his head and some scraped up legs.

"He was saying mommy, mommy, screaming for me," said Erica Stewart.

His mother and 4 siblings were turning the corner at 43rd and Fairmount when Samaje stumbled into the 7 foot deep, wet trash filled hole.

Hi mother feared the worst but quickly gathered herself and worked to pull her son to safety. Medics rushed him to CHOP.

"I had to lie down and grab his arms out of there but I did it so fast because I was scared, so I did real fast got him out of there and set him up on the curb," she explained.

"She was hysterical any mother would be seeing her child in that position but she did what she had to," said Michael Pennock, who witnessed the incident.

The manhole was replaced by the Philadelphia Water Department. Laura Copeland is a spokeswoman there. She suspects the manhole was stolen for resale at a scrap yard, a major problem over the years.

"It's just a tragic accident. As a matter of fact this is one of top priorities. So again we are imploring, we want the public to call us if they see a missing manhole cover."

In 2008, the department began installing locks on some of the 76,000 manhole covers in the city but still officials are looking at options.

"We're also looking into alternative materials to where they won't be attractive for the scrap yards," Copeland said.

If you find a manhole cover missing, Copeland says call the city's 311 call center.

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