WATCH: The moment Theo disappears down the shaft
A shaken mother has described the horror of seeing her 18-month-old son fall down a drain shaft while out walking.
Mum Amy Blyth was out with toddler Theo Prior on Monday 22 May when he stepped on an unsecured manhole cover.
The cover flipped up and Theo fell completely out of view, with the cover closing over his head.
She said: "It was absolutely petrifying. I didn't know if my little boy was going to be dead or if he was even going to be there.
"It felt like it took hours to get the lid off to make sure. I couldn't hear him and I thought 'I've lost him, I've lost my everything'. No-one should have to go through that."
The incident happened at around 9.30am in Beecholme Drive, Ashford.
Amy and Theo were captured on a neighbour's surveillance camera walking past the drain, before Theo turned round and went back for another look at it.
Amy said she had noticed noticed the drain was loose but didn't realise how badly, until Theo stood on it and disappeared through the hole, with the manhole cover closing on top of him.
Amy pulled the cover away and jumped down inside to pull her son out.
She said: "I sprang into action. I didn't even think about the smell. We were both covered in sewage. He had it in his eyes, his hair and his mouth, and all over his clothes."
While they were in there, a neighbour must have used their toilet, she said, as the drain started filling with more sewage.
The traumatised mother took Theo to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford where he was diagnosed with a concussion but had somehow managed to escape further injury.
However, she said Theo has been left traumatised and is scared of going anywhere near a drain. "He is terrorised and very attached to me. He points at drains and asks me to move him away."
Watch: ITV News Meridian's Joe Coshan speaks to Amy about the moment she sprung into action to help her son
Southern Water said the manhole was inspected in February this year and was in a good condition.
John Penicud, director of wastewater operations, said: "This is clearly a shocking incident and we are sorry for the distress that the child and their family experienced. Our county customer manager is supporting the family.
"When we were told about the situation our teams were onsite quickly and the manhole cover was immediately made safe. We are keeping the Health and Safety Executive informed of our actions.
"Anyone with a concern about a manhole should call us on 0330 303 0368.”