Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Two killed, three injured rescuing cell phone from toilet

Entrance to the pit below the toilet in question.

Entrance to the pit below the toilet in question.

Two people are dead and three injured after a woman in Henan, China, accidentally dropped her brand-new cell phone into the open-pit toilet she was using. Six people waded into the pool of human waste; all were overcome and lost consciousness. The fate of the phone is unreported, but it’s probably still in there.

According to the South China Morning Post, it was May 28, 2014, when the young woman dropped her new $320 phone into the open pit toilet, her husband entered the pit and waded into the knee-deep into muck immediately –and passed out it seemed from the stench. The husband”s mother ran in after him and also passed out almost immediately. The young woman went in after her husband and mother-in-law, and unable to help anyone, she too passed out. The distraught father-in-law, watching his family dying in the filth, called out for help to neighbors, who came running.

Three more people ran into the sludge and lost consciousness becoming victims themselves.

Someone had the idea to tie a rope around the intended rescuer’s waist and use it to pull that person out as soon as they became faint. The villagers took turns until all six people were out of the slurry. According to the rescuers the disaster lasted no more than five minutes from beginning to end. They said that all reportedly has pulses when they were pulled out, but the ambulance took an hour to reach the scene.

A doctor later explained that the gases emitted by raw sewage can be so thick as to displace any oxygen in such a pit; victims in these circumstances literally suffocate.

The husband and mother-in-law, who would have been without oxygen the longest, died at the hospital. He is survived by a one-year-old son. The child’s young mother who had initially dropped the phone, and one neighbor are alive, but in intensive care. The father-in-law is reported as the third person injured in the rescue.

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