In the night from Saturday to Sunday, 48-year-old Jeroen De Smet from Sint-Maria-Oudenhove died. After a night out, he drowned in a sewer drain when he tried to retrieve his fallen mobile phone.
An evening fair in Oudenhove ended tragically for a 48-year-old man. When he walked back home, according to the police, his mobile phone fell into a sewer in Oudenhovestraat. He probably opened the sewer cover and started looking for his smartphone. When he did, gases were released from the sewer, causing the man to pass out and sink into the sewage.
Passers-by saw Jeroen walking near the accident. The victim’s parents said he was on his cell phone at the time. When the passers-by returned a little later, they saw Jeroen stabbing in the sewer. They tried to pull him out of the sewer, but they couldn’t. When they finally knocked on neighbors’ doors, all help came too late for the man.
Do not open sewer mouths
Experts urge you not to open sewer outlets yourself: not the rectangular ones you often see between the footpath and the parking lane, nor the large round covers that you often find in the middle of the roadway. ‘Trying to fish your fallen keys or mobile phone out of a sewer drain yourself is absolutely not a good idea.’
‘There can always be an accumulation of dangerous gases in such a sewer, often with the effect that there is little or no oxygen in that room,’ emphasizes Wendy Francken, director of Vlario, the Flemish Knowledge Center on sewers and waste water collection. ‘That is why people who descend into sewers to perform work in them receive thorough training. They also always have specialized measuring equipment with them, so as not to be surprised by dangerous vapours. Do your keys or mobile phone fall into the sewer? An advice. Leave.’