A mother has said she feared her toddler was dead after he fell five feet into a sewer drain during a morning walk.
Amy Blyth, 23, was with her son, 18-month-old Theo Prior, when he disappeared through a drain cover – which then flipped over and closed on top of him.
Footage, captured on CCTV from a neighbouring house, shows the moment the quick-thinking personal trainer yanked the metal cover and jumped into the drain to rescue him, pulling him from the river of human waste in Tenterden, Kent.
She stood on the ledge on the side of the sewer to reach Theo, who had fallen to the very bottom of the drain.
Describing the “horror film” moment, she said: “My first thought was ‘oh my God, he’s dead’.
“I yanked the drain lid out, and I just saw him down there, screaming my name. There was sewage up to his knees.
“I jumped down the drain, but it’s not big enough for me to bend over to grab him. I had to sort of arch my body to grab him and pull him up.
“I don’t know how I did it. My body went in ways I’ve never bent before, just to get him out of that drain.”
The terrified little boy, who is said to have swallowed some sewer water, was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was diagnosed with a mild concussion – but X-rays revealed he had miraculously escaped without any broken bones.
‘I thought I was going to lose him’
Ms Blyth said: “It could have ended up so much worse. If he’d gone down head first, I don’t even know if he would be here.
“It makes me feel sick to think of it. It’s an absolute nightmare – I’m petrified of drains now. I still feel really shaken from it. I just can’t really get over it.
“He literally went straight to the bottom, and I thought I was going to lose him. It was actually like a horror film.”
Ms Blyth emerged from the drain “screaming for help”, while Theo, in an apparent state of shock, “wasn’t really making a noise”.
She said she dreads to think what might have happened had the child fallen through the drain cover unseen.
“You couldn’t even hear him because it’s sound-proof,” she said.
“He could have fallen down, and I’d have gone running round the block trying to find him, not in a drain.”
Theo is now home and recovering, but Ms Blyth has complained to Southern Water and said she “needs answers”.
It is understood Southern Water is working to establish who is responsible for the drain and manhole.
Around four investigators were seen in the area yesterday looking into the cause of the accident.
The utility company confirmed it is investigating and taking the matter “very seriously”.
A spokesman for the firm said: “We are aware of a situation involving a child and an open manhole.
“This is clearly an upsetting situation for those involved and our team is on-site. A dedicated customer liaison officer has been assigned to support the family.
“We are taking this matter very seriously and our first priority was to make the area safe. Next steps are to understand exactly what happened.”
Southern Water has been contacted for an update on its investigation.