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'Swallowed Alive': Falling in a sinkhole

'Sinkholes: Swallowed Alive': Falling in a Sinkhole

Falling in a sinkhole seems hopeless, but this woman survived to tell the tale.

Carla Chapman was in her garden in Plant City, Fla., when a 'huge black lizard jumped out of [a] pot.' That made Carla jump backward -- and as soon as her feet hit the ground, she was crashing through the earth.

'There wasn't any grass, there wasn't anything to hold on to. It was wet clay, this heavy clay and sand, this confusion,' she said. 'I know what it feels like to begin to suffocate, and the harder you struggle, the further down you go.'

Carla immediately tried to call 911, but she didn't have good service in the hole. Her phone cut off before her location could be pinpointed. Her saving grace was a decision to call her husband, Keith, and then throw the phone up onto the grass. She continued to scream so that he would know something was very wrong.

Though Keith couldn't understand what she was saying, he managed to hear 'help' and 'hole.'

He immediately called the police department, and officer William Omanski was able to follow her screams and find her. All he saw was her fingertips sticking out of the hole.

Carla and Keith believe that groundwater drainage to irrigate nearby strawberry fields may have caused the sinkhole.


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