Rescuers, Wlodykas celebrate after pipe escape


Evan Goodenow | Wellington Enterprise Firefighters honored three-year-old Rex Wlodyka and his family Sept. 14. Rex was pulled from his family’s septic tank pipe four days earlier. Pictured are fire chief Mike Wetherbee, Tristan Wlodyka, Oliver Wlodyka, Rex and Tristan’s father, Rex Wlodkya, and Sarah Wlodyka, Rex and Tristan’s mother.


Rex and Tristan Wlodyka were made honorary firefighters Wednesday as they recovered from a horrific ordeal at their Peck Wadsworth Road home.

Pulling three-year-old Rex from his family’s septic tank pipe where he became lodged Sept. 10 lifted Wellington firefighters’ spirits.

In 2015, firefighters responded to car crashes that killed nine people and found a homicide victim in a home after extinguishing the fire started by the killers. After last year’s carnage, rescuing Rex was good for morale, said chief Mike Wetherbee.

“We had a good outcome,” he said before presenting the boys with toy helicopters, fire engines, and trucks at the Wellington fire station. “That’s something a lot of times we don’t really get to say.”

While playing in his backyard, Rex removed the tank cap and wedged himself into the tank. Tristan alerted their father, Oliver Wlodyka who held Rex’s hand until firefighters arrived.

Wetherbee said Rex, who is about 30 inches tall, was up to his chest in sewage when firefighters arrived. About 13 firefighters and six members of the Lorain County Technical Rescue Team, who happened to be training nearby, were involved in the rescue.

All train for trench and confined space rescues, which Wetherbee said was helpful during the 34-minute rescue. It involved removing mounds of dirt manually around the tank which were then scooped up with a backhoe.

The boys’ parents also received gifts from firefighters.

Sarah Wlodkya, a cake decorator, baked cupcakes for firefighters and Southern Lorain County Ambulance District personnel who treated and transported Rex to a hospital.

Sarah said when she was called about the incident, she thought Rex had died. She called firefighters “angels” for rescuing him.

“I don’t know what I would do without him,” she said. “You guys made it possible for me to still have my reason for living.”

Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter

Evan Goodenow | Wellington Enterprise Firefighters honored three-year-old Rex Wlodyka and his family Sept. 14. Rex was pulled from his family’s septic tank pipe four days earlier. Pictured are fire chief Mike Wetherbee, Tristan Wlodyka, Oliver Wlodyka, Rex and Tristan’s father, Rex Wlodkya, and Sarah Wlodyka, Rex and Tristan’s mother.

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Evan Goodenow | Wellington Enterprise Firefighters honored three-year-old Rex Wlodyka and his family Sept. 14. Rex was pulled from his family’s septic tank pipe four days earlier. Pictured are fire chief Mike Wetherbee, Tristan Wlodyka, Oliver Wlodyka, Rex and Tristan’s father, Rex Wlodkya, and Sarah Wlodyka, Rex and Tristan’s mother.