Girl who fell in open manhole gets visit from her hero

Girl's Recovery Continues After Sewer Fall

BUFFALO, N.Y. - His name is George Bankowski. He was on his morning walk when he found Grace at the bottom of an open manhole on South Legion Drive on Tuesday. 

George recalls seeing a cell phone on the ground, broken into 3 pieces. When he went to pick it up, he says he heard Grace screaming from inside the open manhole.

"I could hear a voice below saying 'Help me! Help me! Call my mommy!' So I stuck my head in the hole and sure enough there was a little girl laying on the bottom of the pipe," Bankowski said.

Grace's family credits him with saving her life. She was down in that sewer hole for over an hour before George found her. 

When George heard the family wanted to meet him and thank him personally for what he did, he stopped by the Women and Children's Hospital to see Grace.

The family says it was an emotional experience. George agrees. He spoke with Channel 2's Emily Lampa after the visit, "It still grabs me now. And every time I think about it," he said Bankowski.

This visit at the hospital was the first time George saw Grace, since Tuesday. He sat by the sewer waiting with Grace, waiting for emergency responders, after he called 911. "My heart went out to her," remembers George. "I was so distraught, but I kept my wit and I started proceeding in helping her and keeping her mind straight...asking her and making sure everything is okay."

The city's fire department responded to help Grace climb out of the hole. 

Emergency responders got Grace to the hospital. Family members say Grace had a tough night waiting for surgery the next morning. Wednesday, doctors put pins in her right ankle to repair the break, and now she has a big pink cast up to her knee.

George visited just hours later, bringing her a gift and offering her his phone number. He told her to call him anytime, if she should need anything. "I think about my grandchildren. I just got a new friend now and a new granddaughter"

A city spokesperson tells 2 On Your Side Buffalo Police are still trying to find out who removed the manhole cover on S. Legion Drive. 

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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