RAPID CITY, S.D. — A 12-year-old boy saved himself after being swept away five blocks in a Rapid City drainage canal Sunday afternoon.

The Rapid City police and fire department responded to a report of the boy being swept away around 2:30 p.m. July 14 at the 200 block of East Meade Street, according to a news release from the fire department.

The boy was out of the water by the time the first responders arrived. He escaped just before the canal drops below street level near the intersection with Ivy Avenue, about five blocks away from where he entered. His family took him to a hospital after the boy was evaluated by fire department medics.

Witnesses told first responders that children frequently play in the water in the same area of the canal where the boy fell in, the release says. The boy wasn't wearing a flotation device and his head went under several times. The water was moving fast due to a short but high-intensity thunderstorm.

"Simply put, this incident could have had a very tragic ending," the news release says. "The Rapid City Fire Department will take the opportunity to remind community members to use an abundance of caution near moving water. Please educate children of the dangers of fast-moving water and keep an eye on them when near the water."