DOWNERS GROVE – Saving baby ducklings was not among Megan Alberts’ plans when she headed out on a shopping trip May 22 in Downers Grove.
Alberts was at the Grove Shopping Center at 75th Street and Lemont Road when she saw several ducklings fall into a sewer.
“I just happened to be there,” said Alberts, who spent the next five hours contacting family members and various village of Downers Grove departments in an effort to rescue the ducklings.
The ducklings had been nesting for several weeks in a planter outside the RoomPlace and were being fed by an employee of the store, Alberts said.
The employee declined to comment for this story.
“It was their very first trip out of the nest,” said Alberts, a Darien native.
Alberts and other members of her family rallied in an attempt to rescue the ducklings. They contacted numerous village departments, including public works, fire and police, but they were dissatisfied with the response they received.
“I can’t stand being ignored,” Alberts said. "Public works did not do all they could do."
Alberts eventually traveled to the Downers Grove Fire Department at 67th and Main streets to alert them of the problem. Firefighters responded but had no luck prying off the sewer cover.
“They tried,” she said.
Alberts' brother-in-law also attempted to remove the sewer cover with a crow bar but was unsuccessful, she said.
Fire Department officials told Alberts the ducklings would eventually be flushed out of the sewer and into a retention pond behind Ashyana Banquets, which is at the west end of the mall. The sewers in the mall connect to the pond.
However, Alberts does not believe the ducklings made their way to the pond and instead perished somewhere in the sewer system.
"I would assume they perished there," she said. “I’m highly disappointed. The biggest disappointment was the lack of response to the community.”
Doug Kozlowski, the village’s communications director, said the village was responsive in its efforts to rescue the ducklings.
"We did all we could," Kozlowski said.
He said the sewer cover was rusted shut, but since it is on private property, the village could not tear up surrounding pavement to remove it.
"We did take the matter very seriously," Kozlowski said, adding the village worked with the mall's management company to resolve the problem.
The following day, village crews checked several sewers at the mall in search of the ducklings.
"It's believed they found their way back to the pond," Kozlowski said. "The ducklings were not trapped."