Tuesday, September 11, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 14



Staff Editorial


Crystal J. Doucette        Ed De La Garza 
Ken Fountain     Nikie Johnson       Ellen Simonson

Big holes, little warning

Kevin Funchess simply wanted to get some Church's Chicken from the nearby Conoco gas station on Scott Street when the whole ordeal
happened Wednesday night.

The 41-year-old was walking to the gas station when he fell into an open storm sewer in a grassy area under the freeway. Fortunately for
Funchess, he had grabbed his backpack and cell phone before leaving his house for his trip. Unfortunately, the phone was in his backpack
when he fell into the sewer, and it lodged underneath him.

Friends and family kept calling to locate Funchess, wondering where he had gone. He was unable to reach the phone to call for help or
answer his concerned callers until Saturday, when he grasped the then low-powered cell and called 911. Houston firefighters rescued him
Saturday afternoon and he escaped with only minor injuries.

Maybe Funchess would have been rescued sooner had he purchased one of those voice-activated cell phones but maybe he shouldn't
have had the opportunity to get into the situation in the first place. In fact, it probably wasn't even his fault he fell into one of the many
man-eating holes we have in this city.

Holes, including potholes caused by construction work or deteriorating roads, seem to grow in number every day in this modern metropolis.
A storm sewer in the middle of the city with a hole big enough for a full-grown man to fall into can say one of two things: Either the
gentleman needs glasses or, more likely, the city needs to more thoroughly examine the potentially life-threatening situations caused by
unnoticed hazards along roads.

It's hard to believe there is an open storm sewer only blocks from UH that can envelop anyone who may not be paying attention to every
step he or she takes.

Yes, there are necessary dangers out there that are harmful if you're not paying attention to where you're going. But a sewer, pothole, drain
or anything else that's near anywhere people walk shouldn't be so big as to swallow people whole should they take a wrong step.

A scratch, a bruise, a scrape, even a sprained or broken ankle is one thing -- but an opening large enough for a grown person to fit into is
not acceptable. Maybe the plan Mayor Lee Brown has outlined for improving Houston's road conditions, including potholes and other road
hazards, will improve the quality of safety.

But then again, who's to say he'll even be around to tout it come November. I guess that means we may be on our own. So be sure to keep
your cell phone handy and fully charged should you find yourself in a fix.

To contact the Opinon Section Editor, send e-mail to dcampus@mail.uh.edu

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