A teenager swept several hundred through a drainage culvert beneath Quintard Avenue was rescued today by a woman and her mother who had stopped to pick up a pizza.
Lelanea McGee-Hall, 42, said she and her mother had stopped at the Little Caesar’s pizza shop on Quintard Avenue to pick up a pizza at about 1:30 when they saw “a half-naked man” in the drainage ditch behind the store, clinging to a piece of concrete. The man was, in fact, a 15-year-old boy who had been swept into the culvert on the other side of Quintard’s six lanes, several hundred feet to the northeast, in an opening behind the Wendy’s restaurant at 15th Street and Quintard, according to David Randle, assistant chief of the Anniston Fire Department.
McGee-Hall, speaking by phone this afternoon from the Anniston Fire Department, said she helped pull the man from the ditch, swollen with runoff from the morning’s heavy rain.
“I asked if he was OK, and he said ‘No,’” McGee-Hall said.
She said the boy was scratched and bleeding from his trip beneath Quintard, his hands injured from holding on against the force of the current.
Randle said the boy told firefighters he been “sticking his feet in the water,” and was swept away by the runoff from this morning’s intense rainfall. As much as six inches of rain fell on parts of Calhoun County between Friday night and Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
“He’s very lucky,” Randle said of the boy. “Those drainages run all the way down to South Anniston.”
The drainage system runs mostly underground through downtown, channeling storm runoff south, where it eventually drains into Choccolocco Creek, south of Oxford.
Anniston EMS workers treated the boy at the scene, Randle said.
The assistant fire chief said people should stay away from storm runoff.
“The water may not look deep, but if it’s running swift it can sweep you off your feet,” Randle said. “The same goes for vehicles.”
The National Weather Service began issuing flash flood warnings for the region in the early morning today, forecasting dangerous runoff.
McGee-Hall said she drove the boy home after helping him from the water. She said the boy, whom she identified only as Samuel, was very grateful for the help.
“He thought he was going to drown,” she said.