A man was in critical condition Wednesday after falling into a storm drain in Miami Beach while trying to help a woman find her keys, authorities said.
On Tuesday, Richard Brandenburg, 49, (pictured below), jumped into the drain to find the keys, and at some point stopped breathing. He had no pulse, but paramedics were able to resuscitate him, authorities said.
The woman was waiting for a locksmith, when Brandenburg told her that he had previously worked on sewage systems and would be willing to go into the sewer to help her, according to a Miami Beach Police incident report.
Witnesses told police he drank half a pint of white rum and smoked a few cigarettes before removing a rectangular grate and jumping into the sewer. He told witnesses he wanted to warm up because the water was cold, according to the police report.
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Brandenburg came up a couple of times to smoke a couple more cigarettes, according to the report. The third time he went into the water, he did not come back up, said the report. Witnesses told police they saw bubbles coming up and tried to rescue him unsuccessfully.
When fire rescue arrived, they found the man under a circular manhole cover a few feet away from the rectangular grate.
"He drowned," said Capt. Adonis Garcia, a fire rescue spokesman.
Police initially reported that he had died.
"They brought him back and now he's in critical condition," Garcia said.
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At first, witness James Vizuette thought the man was just wading through waist-high water.
“And I saw him from the waist up with these two other people, and he was just sitting there, and I didn't take it seriously. I thought he was just cooling off, like he wasn't crying for help or nothing," he said.
Police didn't immediately know how deep the water was in the drain, which was located at 75th Street and Ocean Terrace. He was transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center.
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