FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — After Lakehaven Utility District employees found items indicating that children may be living in a Federal Way sewer, and two boys told them they had been staying there, police identified the students, who admitted they were not homeless and had been using the sewer as a "fort."
After the Lakehaven Utility District contacted Federal Way police and then six days later provided them with pictures of the kids who were thought to be possibly living in a sewer, police worked to identify the children.
The investigation was assigned to a school resource officer who worked with Federal Way School District staff to identify the children in the provided photos.
It was discovered that both of the juveniles are students at Federal Way Middle School. One of the students lives at a home directly in front of the sewer manhole.
When police contacted the two boys, they admitted to using the sewer as a "fort" and not as a shelter. Neither boy is homeless.
Our original story dated August 26, 2016 follows below.
Ken Miller, a 30-year engineering manager with the Lakehaven Utility District, said he's never seen anything quite like it.
Friday afternoon, Miller said meter readers with the utility company spied an open manhole in the middle of a Federal Way street.
They closed it, but came back later and saw it was open again.
"They pushed the manhole closed, and then later on they came back and the manhole was open," Miller said.
They contacted the Lakehaven Sewer District, who sent out a crew to investigate. When they looked inside, they were surprised to find clothes, toys, food and other miscellaneous belongings.
Miller said the crew later made contact with kids nearby who said they had stayed there.
"This should not happen at all," Miller said. "This is where all our waste goes from our houses and our businesses."
In addition to debris, Miller warns there is limited oxygen and the possibility of vermin and potential gases.
He said crews that venture down into the sewer wear protective equipment and take other precautions against potential dangers.
"No one should be down there ... this could have been life and death," Miller said.
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