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‘It was no longer a rescue mission,’ witness says

The scene on Dartmouth Street after a trench flood killed two in the South End.
The scene on Dartmouth Street after a trench flood killed two in the South End. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)

Jonathan LaPierre was showering in his South End residence Friday afternoon when the water pressure suddenly dropped. Moments later, LaPierre stepped out onto his porch, wondering what happened when he saw Boston Fire Department trucks arriving in a hurry.

From the sidewalk on Dartmouth Street, LaPierre heard a man’s voice.

“[A] guy was saying, ‘there’s two guys in the hole, there’s two guys in the hole,’ ” he said. “The police came and pump trucks came and they started pumping out the water as fast as they could.”

But, as LaPierre watched, it became clear to him that first responders realized their rescue efforts were futile.

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“After about 20 minutes they just decided it was no longer a rescue mission,” he said.

Samantha Betti, of Hingham, was working at a home across from Dartmouth Street when she looked out the window and saw brown water flowing everywhere in the neighborhood.

“In both directions. It was going this way and that way,” she said, pointing up and down Tremont. “All we saw was water. That’s all we could see.”

She said the “remarkable” thing about the burst was that there was no noise at all, as far as she could tell, and she had the window open at the time.

“It was just all of a sudden there was water in the street,” she said. “It went from nothing to a flood. Like, very quickly.”

Officials said the company was not working for the city, but had been hired by a resident to conduct underground work on Dartmouth Street.

Neighbors said trucks with the name of Atlantic Drain Service Co. on their side have been parked in the area for most of the week, and a placard near a sidewalk closed sign identified the site as an Atlantic Drain Service job site.

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Residents and workers said the situation changed very suddenly and water first began pouring into the trench, overflowed there and then started flowing down neighborhood streets until the Boston Water & Sewer Commission was able to shut off the supply.

“Basically, water just started flooding the street,’’ said David Henck who had been walking on Dartmouth Street.

Sage Pina, who works at Gifted, a Dartmouth Street store, said workers were scrambling inside the hole as the water poured in. “It just seemed like everybody was panicking. Something definitely didn’t go as planned,” Pina said.

Angel Lopez said he saw workers trying to pull out what he described as a “metal plank” in the street with a Bobcat.

“That’s when I realized there was somebody trapped in there,’’ he said. “There was so much water in two minutes. In two minutes, the place — the whole street — was covered in water.’’


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.


Olivia Quintana can be reached at olivia.quintana@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @oliviasquintana.