“I was really scared … I thought I was going to miss Christmas,” six-year-old Kollin Bailey of Herriman, Utah, told the Deseret News.
Kollin was flying a kite Friday afternoon when he tripped and fell about 10 feet into a manhole. “I was looking back at my kite and I fell, then I blacked out. And when I opened my eyes, I was in there,” he said.
“I saw lots of sticks. Sticks were everywhere. And I think there was something, I think it was green, it was moving down there.”
As the hours passed, his aunt, who was babysitting Kollin, became very worried and called his mom, Shara Bailey. The West Valley City Police were notified of Kollin’s disappearance around 5:30 p.m. Officers and community members spread out around the area, about 25 miles south of Salt Lake City, and searched for the missing boy.
His bike was discovered near a water retention site, but no one noticed the open manhole or heard Kollin shouting for help.
That is, until K9 search dog Copper, a 100-pound Bloodhound who, like Kollin, is also 6 years old, was put into action. After getting a whiff of Kollin’s pillow, Copper led his handler, Sgt. Shane Matheson, to the manhole.
“To him it is just a game of hide and seek,” Matheson told the Deseret News. “It’s kind of a nice change of pace from finding bad guys to actually helping a family out.”
Matheson helped lift Kollin out of the manhole. The boy suffered a broken elbow and scratches, but is otherwise okay.
Someone — not a city worker — had apparently tampered with the manhole cover and removed it.
“These need to be bolted down, something, or (have) a lock on it,” Shara said. “There are three manholes in that area where kids play all the time.”
The evening after he was rescued, Kollin, with his arm in a sling, visited the police station to give his hero a reward. He gave Matheson and Copper big hugs — along with a bone-shaped treat for Copper.
“I never thought I’d owe my son’s life to a dog,” Shara said.
On its Facebook page, the West Valley City Police Department wrote, “We are grateful for our K9 teams and their ability to make a life-saving difference, as well as the partnership with other law-enforcement agencies that puts the safety of the public at top priority.”
Despite Kollin’s worries, thanks to Copper, he won’t be missing Christmas this year. And as for Copper? Kollin’s dad, Shawn Bailey, told the Deseret News, “I was telling everybody at the hospital last night, ‘That dog is going to get the biggest bone he’s ever gotten for Christmas.'”
Photo via Facebook