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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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meclaremont January 26 2014 at 5:31 PM

Is it just me or does Florida have a huge "sink hole" problem? I can see the fear in this poor woman's eyes. Thank God for her quick thinking and having her phone.
I still can't stop thinking of the young man that was killed as a sink hole in Florida swallowed his entire bedroom with him in it. It's tragic and it's frightening.
These stories keep showing Florida as the main area.

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ggoldffinger January 26 2014 at 10:44 AM

Its the lizards fault

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2 replies
naojf22936 ggoldffinger January 26 2014 at 11:34 AM

Or the lizard may have been her saving grace. A warning....

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lmpchapman ggoldffinger January 26 2014 at 3:04 PM

Haaaaaaaaaaaa!!! I wonder what happened to that lizard?

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rob4ever22 January 26 2014 at 10:43 AM

God bless you......I am so glad they found you. This is really scary.

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whyteroom January 26 2014 at 12:56 PM

Florida containes a 100,000 thousand square mile aquifer under it. What is unusual about the configuration of this aquifer, is that it is close to the surface and containes a lattice of caves, which easily gives rise to sinkholes.

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MrsJaz January 26 2014 at 7:52 PM

I have always wanted to move to Florida. After hearing about these sink holes - forget it.. I'm quite happy where I am.

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1 reply
jakki051 MrsJaz January 26 2014 at 9:16 PM

Me too!

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breid2 January 26 2014 at 10:37 AM

woman did good to help herself out of this problem. hubby did the right thing also-good going folks.

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impuddysdad January 26 2014 at 8:00 PM

Same thing happened to me in the backyard last October 18,in Pennsylvania( minus the lizard).
However, our sinkhole was only a few feet deep. Aside from the shock of having the ground drop out from underneath, I was lucky to escape with a bone bruise, which should be healed by July. Falling underground completely had to be terrifying.

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sulandherb January 26 2014 at 10:30 AM

I can't imagine ever feeling safe there again. Nightmares......if you can fall asleep. Good luck to her and her family. Yikes!!

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shasta4737 January 26 2014 at 8:15 PM

Thank God she's okay. That would have been so scary!

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daddynobutt January 26 2014 at 12:57 PM

unless a person has ever faced a situation like this ignorance can really flow out of the piehole. in the late 60s north plant city was plagued by sinkholes. anyone who thinks this is funny just remember your next step on solid ground may be the last plant city will see of your not so smiling face .icky harold to you

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1 reply
nannynix daddynobutt January 26 2014 at 1:27 PM

well said!!!

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