'You don’t expect somebody to be 20 feet under the ground in their own back yard'

'You don’t expect somebody to be 20 feet under the ground in their own back yard' »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. -  The woman who tumbled 20 feet into a long-forgotten,100 year old cesspool knew she faced a huge problem once she realized where she was.

“You don’t expect somebody to be 20 feet under the ground in their own back yard," she said.

She asked KATU not to use her name.

She heard her Newfoundland puppy yelping near the fence Tuesday evening and went to find her.  But she couldn't see the dog in the dark backyard.
 
“And I kind of feel something, like a hole, and the next thing I know, I'm in the hole with her. And kind of fell down, she's splashing around in the water down there.  I grab her, look around, and have like that moment of panic,” the woman told KATU News.

Except for her puppy, the woman was alone.

“I just figured the only way we were both going to get out of there is if someone found us.  So I just started screaming,” she said.

“Thankfully, it didn't go on too long for me to get really panicky. For me, the weirdest thought was that no one knows. And as soon as I heard a voice, I was (thinking) at least someone knows.  Even if something bad happens from here on out, at least someone knows.”

Four years ago, a man in S.E. Portland fell into the same kind of sinkhole in his backyard. He died from hypothermia and drowning.

The woman who survived her ordeal believes sewer-connection work required by the city might have led to the collapse. Since the city keeps record of which properties may have these old structures, she thinks the city should also give homeowners a heads-up of possible danger on their property.

“The city's the ones that are kind of compelling people to have this sewer work done,” she said. "Yet I don't feel they're doing everything they can to make it as safe as possible"