An Oregon woman survived as many as three days trapped in a septic tank after falling into the putrid hole while doing maintenance work, according to a new report.
The woman, who did not want to be publicly identified, was trapped in the front-yard tank until her daughter found her Tuesday, fire chief Richard Anderson told local outlet Fox 12.
“She hadn’t been heard from by her family for a couple days, over the weekend, so the family decided to drive up and check on her and that’s when they found her down in the tank and called 911 to get us started to go up there,” said Anderson, the division chief of the Estacada Rural Fire District.
When first responders got to the scene, they found the woman about 3 feet underground, lying in sewage.
“We could see her in the tank. We could communicate with her,” he said. “We just really needed to get some resources there.”
A tactical rescue team was called in, and the woman was out of the tank within a half-hour, according to Anderson.
“She was alert enough that she was able to grab onto the ‘D-handle’ of one of our tools and set herself up a little bit,” the chief told the outlet. “And then, they were able to get a strap around her and they were able to lift her out of there with that.”
The woman did not appear to be hurt, but a helicopter flew her to a local hospital to be examined for potential infections and limited oxygen.
It seemed that she was doing some maintenance work when she fell in, according to Anderson.
“There was a tractor on site, a hole had been dug to expose the tank, and it looked like she had fallen through the lid,” Anderson told the station. “But we’re a little bit unsure on how she actually ended up down into the tank.”
Septic tanks are common in the area — but incidents like this one are rare.
“In my entire career, I can’t imagine another time this has happened,” the chief said.