Boy, 10, swept through Illinois drainage pipe after heavy rain

HINSDALE, Illinois -- Patrick Doppke's mother believes swimming lessons helped save her son's life after he was swept into a drainage pipe after heavy rain in Illinois.

PJ, as his family calls him, never panicked after surfacing underground inside a pipe, water up to his chest. Seeing a tiny speck of light downstream, he knew he had to get to it.

"Never doubt the strength of water," Patrick said.

And he knows what he's talking about. He was captured by a roaring rush of water after torrential rain in a drainage ditch.

"I had no idea the current would take me, and I didn't know where I was going," he said. "I was fortunate that there were no turns in the pike."

In an instant, he was gone.

"And I ran after him with my dog and he tried to grab onto the grate before being sucked in," said his sister Lauren Doppke.

"I suddenly heard my daughter screaming, just blood-curdling screams, and the dog was barking, barking, barking," said Erin Doppke, mother.

"I could see a little light but the tube was full. I knew there might be a grate on the other side, so I dove down, and I skimmed my hair on the grate," Patrick said.

Patrick resurfaced nearly 1,000 feet away, far from his sister.

"I'm so lucky that he got out alive," Lauren said. "And I just get that feeling every day."

"No matter how strong a swimmer you are, you really shouldn't be playing in water that is rushing like that because you can get swept away," Erin warned.

"If I could tell every single kid something to let them know that they shouldn't do this, is to never play in a creek when it's raining," Patrick said.

Village officials are now looking into how to prevent this from happening again, including reviewing the structure of the drains.

Patrick doesn't know the rate in which he was moving but described it as fast.
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