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Sewer crew show perseverance in the search and recovery of toddler’s hearing aid


Three Lee’s Summit Water Utilities employees were recognized at the Jan. 26, Mayor’s Character Breakfast as Champions of Character for Perseverance.

Early one Monday in October 2016, Water Utilities Wastewater Supervisor CJ Hoover received an unusual telephone call. On the other end of the phone was a panic-stricken mother who had accidentally driven off with her 16-month-old daughter’s expensive hearing device on the top of her car.

Stacy Schwerman’s daughter, Isley, is deaf in one ear and relies on the device called a bone-anchored hearing aid to hear and distinguish sounds from far away. For small children, these hearing aids are not permanent and are usually held in place with a headband. When driving to church, Schwerman was sure she heard the hearing aid rattle off the roof of the car. After searching the area, it occurred to her that perhaps the $7,000 device had fallen into a storm drain.

Enter Lee’s Summit Water Utilities. Once Hoover received the call, he and his crew, Ken Moore and Pat Torello, immediately took the Sanitary Sewer Inspection vehicle – normally used to inspect sanitary sewer pipes with a small robotic video camera for roots, cracks and blockages – to Scherwman’s parents’ Kensington Farms neighborhood.

The crew unsuccessfully searched the storm drains near the home that Monday. But undeterred, they came back the next morning to search another section of the street.

“I was confident we’d find it if it fell into a storm box,” Hoover told the Lee’s Summit Journal.  After a few hours of searching again the next day, Schwerman was about to lose hope.  But just when she was about to tell the crew they could call the search off, they came walking around the vehicle with the hearing case in hand.

“The thing is this hearing aid cost us $7,000. It is a very special kind of hearing aid, so you literally don’t know how grateful I am,” Schwerman gushed in a calll to Director Mark Schaufler.  “(C.J., Pat and Kenny) did such an amazing job. They were so kind…they have just completely, completely, changed our lives for the better. “

Schwerman nominated Hoover, Moore and Torello for the Lee’s Summit CARES, Mayor’s Character Breakfast Champions of Character Awards. The men were recognized Jan. 26 at the ceremony for their perseverance to locate the device that meant so much to Schwerman, Isley and their family.