Manhole Mystery Solved in Downtown El Paso
POSTED: Monday, July 25, 2011 - 5:13pm
UPDATED: Sunday, July 31, 2011 - 1:51am
EL PASO – The sight was astonishing: dozens of muddy footprints coming from a manhole on a sidewalk near the U.S./Mexico Border in Downtown El Paso.
A photographer who works at a nearby art studio sent NewsChannel 9 pictures of the bizarre scene, so we could investigate. As you can see, the muddy shoe prints lead in different directions across Paisano Drive near Durango Street and into the the Downtown area.
The big question on everyone's mind was who made them. After some investigating, a spokesman for the Border Patrol says the footprints were made two weeks ago by migrants from Mexico who crossed the border using drainage tunnels under the city. In all, 21 people came out through the one manhole.
The Border Patrol says camera technology helped agents capture all of the migrants the same day. Illegally crossing into the U.S. through drainage tunnels and manholes isn't uncommon, but it is very dangerous.
That's why the El Paso Fire Department has a team dedicated to saving people from confined spaces, like a sewer.
"As a matter of fact, last month we had an incident where our team pulled out a person from a sewer Downtown," said Alejandro Rodriguez, with the El Paso Fire Deparment.
In this case it's almost hard to image how 21 people managed to navigate the dark, underground network of drainage tunnels to emerge through a tiny manhole. Because many times, they never make it.
"If they're coming in from across the border they're probably malnourished or exhausted," said Rodriguez.
And the city had taken steps to keep it from happening again. The manhole the 21 people came though has since been welded shut.