STARR COUNTY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) — Six terrifying hours… that’s how long it took to get a 4-year-old boy to safety after he fell down a 44-foot deep well in Texas.

While out walking with his family on December 8 the little boy fell down an opening to a water well that was too small for anyone to go in after him.

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When the Edinburg Fire Department arrived at the scene rescuers said the opening was so dark that they couldn’t even see the child.

(credit: City of Mission, TX)

One reason the child, whose name has not been released, was rescued safely was because his body became stuck as it plunged down the well.

“It [the well] was actually 44 feet deep and the child had fallen 9 and a half feet into that hole,” explained Edinburg Fire Chief Shawn Snider. “There was only one way to extract this child and not back the way they came — we had to dig a hole adjacent too the original hole.”

But Mission Fire Department Assistant Chief Robert Alvarez said breaking through the ground was easier said than done. “The soil got to the point where it turned into almost like a shale rock, so shovels weren’t being effective anymore and we had to turn to the pneumatic tools.”

(credit: City of Mission, TX)

After tying a rope around the boy’s hands, to keep him from falling deeper, firefighters and deputies used shovels, air operated hammers and vacuums to suck in the dirt and dump it away from the holes.

Alvarez said, “As you are breaking up the soil you also have to take it out of the hole too, cause if not, you are just collecting more dirt in there. Any vibration, any wrong strike of a shovel could cause more soil to fall into the hole where the victim was.”

Eventually firefighters reached the boy, put a harness around him and pulled him up.

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The boy was immediately taken by air ambulance to a nearby hospital and the well was closed and filled with dirt.

Snider credits the dozens of first responders — Edinburg, Mission, Pharr and Starr County — who showed up to help for the successful rescue.

At last check the boy was stable and continuing his recovery at the hospital.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The CNN Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.)

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