Elgin first responders fish 8 ducklings out of storm sewer

Elgin firefighters and police officers teamed up Sunday to rescue eight ducklings that had fallen into a sewer.

The ducklings, apparently in good condition, were taken to a lake near Advocate Sherman Hospital, where they were last seen swimming, officials said.

“Everyone on the scene was happy we were able to save the ducklings,” said firefighter Robert Marquardt, who performed the lifesaving duties. “It was a feel-good call.”

Elgin police got a call about 1:40 p.m. from a passer-by who saw the ducklings cross the street in a row and then, one by one, fall into the sewer on the 1500 block of Randall Road, in front of the Brilliance Subaru car dealership, officials said. The ducklings were about four to five feet below ground, and firefighters were called for assistance.

“When we got there we could hear the faint chirping of a duck, and we thought it was a single duckling at the time,” Marquardt said.

After he grabbed a crowbar and lifted up the grate, he saw a single duckling swimming around in the stormwater, he said. He lay on his stomach, grabbed an extendible net — courtesy of police officers — and fished the duckling, he said.

He placed it in a cardboard box, thinking he was done ... and then came another faint chirp, he said.

“We explored the sewer a little bit more with a flashlight, and that's when we saw seven more huddled in the corner,” he said. “We went back in, and I was able to get two more out and put them in the box, and I was able to get the rest of them the next time (with the net).”

Police officers took the box, drove to the hospital grounds and released the ducklings in the water, police spokeswoman Kristi Hilton said. “They weren't able to find the mom but they were hoping she was in the area,” she said.

The sewer was deep enough that there was no way the ducklings could have escaped on their own, Marquardt said. This was his first duckling rescue, he said.

“I'm the back-end firefighter, what we like to call 'the grunt.' You do all the work,” he explained. “It was extremely gratifying, though.”

Elgin firefighter Robert Marquardt used a long-handled net to fish eight ducklings out of a storm sewer. Courtesy of Elgin Fire Department
Elgin firefighter Robert Marquardt dives in for a good look for ducklings stuck in a storm sewer. Courtesy of Elgin Fire Department
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