Crystal J. Doucette
Ed De La Garza
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
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
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
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.