Police: Man drank, smoked before entering sewer drain

Richard Brandenburg transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The 49-year-old man who went into a sewer drain to retrieve a woman's keys drank half a pint of white rum and smoked several cigarettes before entering the sewer, according to a Miami Beach incident report.

Richard Brandenburg remains in critical condition at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Witnesses told police Brandenburg offered to help a woman find her keys after they fell into a flooded storm drain at 74th Street and Ocean Terrace Tuesday evening. The woman was waiting for a locksmith, who delayed his call because the area was inundated with water after the heavy rains pounded South Florida.

Brandenburg told the woman he previously worked on sewage systems. He drank and smoked before removing the grate covering the drain, telling witnesses it would help him warm up because the water was cold.

Brandenburg entered the hole, returned, and smoked another cigarette, said police. He did this a second time.

The third time he entered the water, he didn't return, and police said the witnesses saw bubbles rising to the surface. They tried using a dog leash to help pull Brandenburg out of the drain.

When firefighters arrived, they pried open a manhole near the sewer drain and pulled Brandenburg out. He wasn't breathing and had no pulse, but rescue crews were able to revive him.

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