Search ends unexpectedly in downtown Utica


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Employees at Utica National Insurance heard an unexpected noise when they got to work Tuesday morning.

"They were hearing the moaning of an animal- didn't know what it was," said Mayor Robert Palmieri, who received a call about the incident in the early morning.

The Utica Fire Department and National Grid responded, believing a small animal was trapped inside the wall.

"People were stopping in their cars, what's happening? People were asking, 'has the puppy been rescued?' So word spreads quickly and there was a great deal of concern from the neighborhood," said Brenda Episcopo, who works inside the building at United Way.

Engineers examined the building blue prints, workers scaled manholes, and National Grid used listening devices in an effort to find the source of the noise.

"We isolated an area where the sounds were coming from," said Mayor Palmieri.

Then, using a backhoe, they gained access to a drain tile where they thought the animal may be located. However, it wasn't until after taking their efforts indoors, they discovered it wasn't  an animal after all.

"We experienced a mechanical issue that mimicked the sound of an animal in distress, presumably a dog, and it's been since discovered that that was not the issue and we're just grateful that it was resolved the way it was resolved and appreciate the efforts of everyone who brought it to this conclusion," said Steve Kukowski, the corporate communications specialist for Utica National Insurance.

While it turned out there was no animal that needed rescuing, the mayor said it's better to be safe than sorry.

"This is what the city's all about. We're a very caring community and we left no stone unturned and I think at the end of the day I'm very, very glad it was not an animal," said Mayor Palmieri.

"I feel really good about the effort that took place here today to rescue- or rule out the need for a rescue," said Episcopo.

Utica National Insurance is looking into the mechanical error.

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