Officers rescue woman, children in Big Ditch

02/26/2014 12:09 PM

02/26/2014 12:09 PM

Investigators are possibly pursuing child endangerment or trespassing charges in an incident late Monday and early Tuesday in which a woman became stranded with three young children in the Big Ditch, a Sedgwick County sheriff’s official said Wednesday.

Dozens of officers were involved in the rescue of the woman and children, sheriff’s Lt. David Mattingly said.

He gave this account: At 11:45 p.m. Monday, Wichita police asked sheriff’s deputies to help them find several people reported to be stuck in the Wichita/Valley Center Floodway, commonly known as the Big Ditch. A Wichita man had been driving a truck in the drainage ditch and got stuck. About 7 p.m. he called a woman to pick him up at the canoe-launch area at 3100 E. 71st St. South.

The woman reportedly brought a 4-year-old, 2-year-old and 10-month-old with her and got stuck as well. The man managed to get out on his own.

About 4:45 a.m., the police helicopter found the woman and children, and a sheriff’s ATV brought them out. The woman and children had stayed in a van with the headlights on, which helped the helicopter find them. The woman didn’t have a cellphone, Mattingly said.

She is not the mother of the children, he said.

It’s dangerous to drive in the flood-control ditch because vehicles can have accidents, he said. Also, the ditch wasn’t designed for off-road driving, which can damage the structure, he said.

People who trespass there can receive a $500 citation, Mattingly said.

Still, he noted, people have been illegally driving in the ditch for decades.

Editor's Choice Videos

Join the discussion

is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service