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Exclusive: kids playing in drainway

There is proof kids have been climbing and playing inside the drainway near Sherwood Way, according to Fire Marshal, Ross Coleman. Read the full story here.
There is proof kids have been climbing and playing inside the drainway near Sherwood Way, according to Fire Marshal, Ross Coleman.

Coleman first heard reports students may be playing inside the drainways a couple of weeks ago.

"We had a call for some popping sounds...possibly coming from a manhole cover and the fire department was on scene and they had decided there were some kids inside one of the tunnels underneath the steel and were possibly burning something," said Coleman.

Officer R. Tinsley at the San Angelo Police Department first heard the reports when it happened.

"We tracked it down to kids...but, I don't think they (the officers on call) found the kids," explained Tinsley.

Officers confirmed the kids have not yet been identified. In the meantime, Coleman expressed his concern for the juveniles.

"It's dark, there's no power. You know, that's a water spillway. There's no telling what could be down there. We don't know if other people could be in there. We don't know," Coleman stated.

While it was dangerous for our photographer to climb down in the drain pipe, we do have exclusive photos from Coleman showing the area below. In the pictures, graffiti can be seen on the walls and a burned substance was on the ground before last week's rain washed it away.

"There's various things in there, tagging, and graffiti, and so forth. We looked in the area and found what appears to be a small pile of burned debris," continued Coleman.

The City of San Angelo's Operations Director, Shane Kelton, has said the city has reinforced steel on many of its drainways. However, as one can clearly see in the photos, not so with those owned by the Texas Department of Transportation.

After hearing of this incident, San Angelo's TXDOT Public Information Officer, Karen Threlkeld, released the following statement:

"In the coming weeks, the Texas Department of Transportation will be evaluating the box culvert on Sherwood Way to determine if modifications can be made that will still allow for proper drainage, while also making it more secure from entry."

One of the problems with the area seems to be the possibility vagrants could be living in the drainway. With the recent crackdown in the area near Central High School, homeless people are now frequently migrating from place to place.

"We could have vagrants in there and, you just, you can't see very far," finished Coleman.

Safety is the main concern all parties emphasized and no one seems to be certain of what is down there. The best advice to bored children seems to be to find a safer place to hang out.

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