CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) - It's a tragedy authorities want to prevent from ever happening again. Last month, a 4-year-old boy fell into a deep abandoned well in Carlsbad. His body was found two days later.
Now, authorities have discovered that well is just one of many that pose a danger.
The area where crews worked for hours to recover Samuel's body is now covered. But the tragedy surrounding his death has city officials working to prevent something like this from happening again.
When the Office of the State Engineer inspected that hole, they discovered it had been dug before records of the locations of wells were kept.
"All of them aren't mapped, so we don't know where they are, and the State Engineer's Office doesn't really know where all of them are," explained Carlsbad Police Chief, Daniel Fierro.
The Carlsbad police and fire departments have teamed up to locate the wells and are asking the public for help reporting these hazards. In the past month they've received several calls.
"Some of these holes are much larger than the one that was out on Taylor Circle, and it's very easy for people to just come across them out in the middle of nowhere and fall in," Fierro said.
One abandoned hole was reported in a south Carlsbad neighborhood. It's 16 inches wide, 85 feet deep and covered by rocks holding down a sheet of metal.
"I reported that to the state engineer, and he came down and viewed it, photographed it and sent a letter to the property owner asking the property owner to protect it, to mitigate it," said Carlsbad Fire Chief Mike Reynolds.
Carlsbad officials are working to find ways to help property owners with dangerous holes.
"Whether it be from grants, donations from the community, donations from businesses and contractors," Reynolds said adding he's looking into all options to help offset costs.
Reynolds said depending on what kind of hole it is--an old water well, a cesspool--that money will go toward helping the owner follow criteria for filling it.
"With Sammy Jones, the awareness has been heightened, and the criticality of these issues have been reemerged," Reynolds said. "We really need to address them as fast as possible."
The goal, Reynolds and Fierro said, is to protect the public and possibly save a life.
The city is asking anyone who comes across what they think may be an abandoned well or deep hole to call Carlsbad's non-emergency 311 phone number to report it.
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