updated 6/7/2007 5:09:34 PM ET 2007-06-07T21:09:34

A 41-year-old man drowned Wednesday after getting stuck in a storm sewer trying to retrieve a cell phone, police said.

The man weighed more than 300 pounds and was wedged with his head and shoulders underwater in a vertical storm drain in front of his home, said police Lt. Tim Eirich.

The man's identity was not released pending notification of relatives.

Neighbor Chris Van Erem said he saw the man kneeling over the sewer before he fell in. Police said the man pulled the iron grate off trying to get the cell phone.

Then, a child from the neighborhood ran toward Van Erem frantically. Van Erem said he then saw the man's feet sticking up out of the grate.

"I ran over and tried to pull him on out," Van Erem said. "Absolutely helpless was the feeling. I couldn't budge him."

Van Erem had the child call 911 as he continued to try to free the man.

"I could see his head and his shoulders were completely under the water," he said. "His legs weren't moving. He was completely unresponsive."

Van Erem said it ultimately took six firefighters to pull the man from the sewer. Sheboygan County Coroner David Leffin ruled the man's death as an accidental drowning.

The man's cell phone was later found at the bottom of the sewer, police said.

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