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Friend of woman rescued from Delray Beach storm drain says she 'needs time to heal'

Family members believe woman's story despite police skepticism
Rescuers look down at woman in storm drain in Delray Beach
Posted at 11:54 AM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 18:57:44-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — A friend of a woman who said she was stuck in a Delray Beach storm drain for three weeks spoke to the media Thursday to thank officials for saving her life.

Michael Hahn read a statement on behalf of the family of 43-year-old Lyndsey Jane Kennedy, who was rescued Tuesday after she was reported missing earlier this month.

Kennedy said she accessed the storm drain while swimming in a canal in west Delray Beach.

According to a missing person's report filed with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the woman disappeared from her boyfriend’s apartment on March 3.

After discussions with the woman's boyfriend and mother, the report states there was speculation the woman, with a history of mental illness and drug use, may have relapsed on drugs.

Kennedy told police she became lost amid the maze of tunnels until she was finally rescued this week after a passerby heard her cries for help near a drain located at West Atlantic and Southwest 11th avenues.

Friend of family holds news conference after woman rescued from Delray Beach storm drain

Hahn said Thursday that Kennedy has been through a "very traumatic situation" and needs time to recuperate but is very appreciative of the first responders who rescued her.

"The family is so thankful for everyone's concerns but needs some time to heal," Hahn said. "At this point, the family is asking for complete privacy."

He said Kennedy did not have anything to eat during those weeks she was trapped in the storm drain and only drank some ginger ale that she found.

911 caller finds naked woman in Delray Beach storm drain

Kennedy is still very weak from the experience but is recovering with her mother, he said.

Despite police saying Wednesday they were skeptical that she survived for three weeks in the storm drain, Hahn said family members believe her story.

"The only thing I would say is what's been reported already is pretty accurate as to what occurred, and that's all I can say," Hahn said.

The canals and underground pipes of South Florida are designed to control flooding and water flow.

Tommy Strowd
Tommy Strowd with the Lake Worth Drainage District says conditions in the drainage pipes are extremely difficult for anyone to survive for a long period of time.

Tommy Strowd, the executive director of the Lake Worth Drainage District, manages 500 miles of canals and even more pipes that stretch from Southern Boulevard to the Broward County line.

He said just being in the underground system, let alone trying to survive for weeks, is a steep challenge for anyone.

"They're dark and wet, water in them all the time. There's a lot of debris, leaves, limbs, trash, mud that gets washed into them from the adjacent communities, so they're not a very hospitable environment," Strowd said.

Hahn, who said he has been a family friend for 10 years, did not rule out Kennedy speaking to the media once she has recovered from the ordeal.

Police said it did not appear any crime was committed during the incident.