Iowa teen missing, storm drain search commences after heavy rains

Logan Blake was swept away by the fast-moving water in the drain at an elementary school around 7:20 p.m. Monday, said city public safety communications coordinator Greg Buelow. He did not explain how the teenager ended up in the drain.

Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG/AP
Cedar Rapids firefighters open a manhole cover as they search for a teenager who was swept away in a storm drain after heavy rainfall overwhelmed the eastern Iowa city's storm sewer system, on June 30.

Rescue crews peered beneath manhole covers, used sonar in a lake and kept divers on standby in the search for a teenager who was swept away in a Cedar Rapids storm drain after heavy rainfall overwhelmed the easternIowa city's sewer system.

Logan Blake, 17, was swept away by the fast-moving water in the drain at an elementary school around 7:20 p.m. Monday, said city public safety communications coordinator Greg Buelow. He did not explain how the teenager ended up in the drain.

Buelow and Cedar Rapids Fire Department Battalion Chief Brian Gibson said Tuesday that they still considered the operation a rescue mission.

The storm sewer drains into Cedar Lake, and fire department crews were using sonar and boats to search the body of water as a dive team waited in the wings. Police officers and dozens of volunteers searched along the path of the pipe by foot.

Buelow said the storm drain feeds into an underground concrete pipe about 4 1/2 feet wide at the school's culvert entrance. That pipe runs about a mile and a half southwest and is 10 feet in diameter where it empties into Cedar Lake.

Rescuers have so far been largely unable to enter the underground sewer system because of the dangerously fast current. But on Tuesday one crew member went underground with a special camera to search for Blake in the network of pipes, Buelow said.

"Everyone is trying to remain optimistic that it is a rescue mission," he said.

Blake's father, Mark Blake, told ABC News that the family was holding out hope that he would be found alive.

"He's a strong kid, a very athletic kid," he said. "He's got a strong will. We have every faith in the world that he's hooked on and waiting for the current to slow down."

David Bliss, 17, tried to save Blake but was also dragged into the drain. That teen traveled along the drain for more than a mile, eventually emerging in Cedar Lake. The boy walked to a hospital and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Recent heavy rainfall has overwhelmed the storm sewer system in many parts of Cedar Rapids, causing water to rise in the streets and rush through neighborhoods. The sanitary sewer system also became overwhelmed and overflowed.

A band of strong storms washed across the Midwest on Monday evening. Police said a man in northern Indiana was killed when a tree fell onto a trailer home and another died when strong winds caused a building to collapse in eastern Iowa. The raging stormsleft hundreds of thousands of people without power across Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.