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Abandoned Well Accidents
1998 – Midland, Michigan A four-year-old girl fell through the rotted wood cover of an abandoned water well while chasing a stray cat with her two-year-old sister in the yard of their Larkin Township home. She held onto a pipe in the well to keep from sinking into the 7 to 8 ft. deep water until she was rescued by her father, who had his wife and seven-year-old son lower him head-first into the well by holding his legs. The girl was in the well for about 10 minutes and was very cold, but fortunately she was not injured.
(Source: Midland Daily News, December 15, 1998)
1998 - Delaware City, Delaware A five-year-old girl was rescued within 20 minutes after she fell into a 42 ft. deep well at her grandparents home. The accident occurred when she stepped on a temporary fiberglass cover over the 2 ft. by 2 ft. well opening. She fell to the bottom of the well which had 2 to 3 ft. of standing water. Rescue personnel lowered a fireman into the well to retrieve the girl. She was airlifted to a hospital where she was later released.
(Source: Water Well Journal, March 1998, "Child Falls into Well; Is Rescued Unharmed")
1998 - Buenos Aires, Argentina A five -year-old boy fell into a 59 ft. deep well shaft while out walking with his mother. He cried at the outset of the ordeal, but after whimpering for three hours, he fell silent. Thirty hours after he fell in, his body was recovered by workers using heavy excavation equipment and mini-cameras. The workers dug a second tunnel alongside the well and a passageway between the two shafts to reach the trapped boy.
(Source: Lansing State Journal, March 21, 1998, "Crews find boy’s body after 30 hours in well")
1997 - Cockeysville, Maryland Six-year-old boy playing hide-and-seek with his brothers fell into 50 foot deep abandoned well. Rescuers pumped oxygen down hose to child who was standing in chin-deep water. Child rescued by lowering emergency worker with harness and back-splint. Boy airlifted to hospital for treatment of fractured leg.
(Source: Water Well Journal, July ’97, "Contractor Has Role in Boy’s Rescue from Old Well", by Gloria Swanson)
1997 - Lenawee County, Michigan Two 10-year-old girls playing in yard fell though concrete cover 5 feet into a 25 feet deep, 4 feet diameter dug well. Mother tried to rescue children and also fell in. All three rescued by township fire department unharmed.
(Source: Newspaper article - Adrian Daily Telegraph, February 5, 1997 and report from Lenawee County Health Department dated 2/6/97)
1997 - Central Minnesota Well owner reported that his child, who was playing in the yard, stepped into an improperly sealed unsuccessful well. The child fell into the borehole up to his chest and caught himself with his arms. Other children pulled him to safety.
(Source: Minnesota Well Management News, Winter 1997/98, Vol. 17, No. 4, Minnesota Department of Health)
1996 - Mackinaw, Illinois Ten-year-old boy was seriously injured when he fell into an abandoned well at a park. After falling onto a concrete cover which gave way, the child plunged 40 feet to the bottom of an abandoned 103-year-old well. He broke both legs and an arm.
(Source: Water Well Journal, June ’97, "Children Fall into Wells" and Aqua Notes, newsletter of the Illinois Association of Groundwater Professionals)
1996 - King George, Virginia A third grader fell through a crack in the lid of his grandmother’s well and plunged 35 feet to water. After he fell, pipes under the water squeezed his legs, pinning them. Fortunately, he suffered no broken bones.
(Source: Water Well Journal, June ’97, Children Fall into Wells" and article in Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads newspaper)
1995 – Port Orchard, Wash. A construction foreman fell into an abandoned well at a site where a shopping complex was under construction. He plunged 20 feet into the well after stepping on rotted boards that covered the well. At the time of the accident, he was making preparations to seal the well. The local health department asked him to remove oil jugs and automobile batteries that someone discarded near the well. The worker was struck on the head by chunks of brick and crumbling plank and briefly knocked unconscious. He awoke in the water, not knowing how deep it was because he never touched bottom. He climbed out of the well by grabbing bolts protruding from the wall of the well. He was treated for cuts and abrasions at a hospital.
(Source: Port Orchard Independent newspaper, August 2, 1995)
1994 – Home, Washington A 7-year old boy was rescued after falling 40 feet to the bottom of an abandoned well, landing in two feet of mucky water. The boy and his 9-year old companion were roaming around a field when they came across an old shed. After entering the structure, which turned out to be an abandoned well house, they fell through rotten boards covering the well. The older boy caught hold of some piping, climbed out and summoned the help of a neighbor who tried unsuccessfully to reach the boy with a ladder. A firefighter who was an experienced rock climber, was lowered into the well to rescue the boy. The boy was in the well about an hour and suffered cuts and bruises. He was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released.
(Source: Gateway Newspaper article from September 21, 1994)
1991 - Hungary A 19-year old man falls to bottom of a 74 feet deep, 4 feet diameter well. After several attempts, he manages to climb out after being confined for nearly 24 hours. He was treated for a toe fracture, gangrene, lacerations, frostbite, and dehydration.
(Source: Readers’ Digest, September 1994, "Trapped in a Well", by E. Kovats)
1987 - Midland, Texas 18-month-old girl falls 22 feet into abandoned 8 inch well (Rescued).
(Source: Lansing State Journal, October 1987, various Associated Press articles - This is the nationally publicized case involving toddler Jessica McClure. Years later, the dramatic rescue became the subject of a television movie.)
1986 – Texas 6-year-old child steps off school bus and falls into snow-covered abandoned well (Rescued)
1986 - Colt’s Neck, New Jersey 2-year-old boy falls 12 feet into abandoned 12 inch borehole in yard (Rescued).
1983 - Frascati, Italy 6-year-old boy falls over 200 feet into 16 inch abandoned well (Fatality).
1983 – Louisiana 10-month-old child falls to bottom of 40 foot deep 10 inch abandoned well (Fatality).
1981 – Texas 4-year-old child falls 260 feet into well (Rescued).
Alabama Deerhunter fell into 30 feet deep abandoned well - lands waist deep in muck and water and a loosened board falls and hits him on the head - crawls out by digging hand holds in clay walls with knife - drove himself to hospital - wood splinters removed from scalp.
(Source: Outdoor Life magazine feature called "This Happened to Me: Trapped in Hidden Well. A True Tale" by Steve Lovin, Aliceville, Alabama)
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