PERRIS, Calif. (AP) -- A 73-year-old woman was doing well Friday after being rescued from an abandoned 25-foot-deep well where she was trapped for 6 1/2 hours.

"I was just covered with dirt and all this stuff," Rachel Chandler, 73, told KCAL-TV Los Angeles from her hospital bed. "The Lord was with me -- I cried. I just begged the Lord to hurry up and bring my daughter home."

Chandler fell through a buried, rotted wood cover over the 40-inch-diameter well in her daughter's back yard about 2 p.m. Thursday. A passerby discovered her shortly before 6 p.m. and firefighters finally pulled her out about 8:30 p.m.

Chandler was in stable condition and in good spirits, said Dr. Daniel Ludi, who treated her at Riverside County Regional Medical Center.

The woman suffered a fractured wrist, a bump on her head and was being monitored for signs of spinal injury. She was expected to stay four or five days in the hospital, but doctors were pleased with her condition.

"We are extremely happy," said Ludi, who cited the role of her faith and positive attitude in her recovery. The doctor said Chandler described looking up through the hole and knowing that someone was watching over her.

Chandler's daughter, Sandy Moreno, told a press conference that her mother recently completed chemotherapy. She did not detail that illness, however.

"She has incredible strength that I've tried to take after. In all of this, I don't think she ever complained to one of these people," Moreno said.

Brad Harris, a fire battalion chief with the state Department of Forestry, said the well was probably 60 years old and a type common in the rural area 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

"She's a great gal," said Firefighter Mark Defina, who was lowered into the well.

"She wasn't screaming, yelling. Imagine, at that age," he said. "I've come across a lot of people ... that go on over a lot less than that."

She told paramedics later that she was "cold, hungry, and said if she had had a ladder, she would have tried to get out herself," the firefighter said.

Chandler, from Texas, had been staying with her daughter for about a month. She was apparently carrying pieces of a bed frame that tumbled down the well with her.

It took several hours to rig ropes from a ladder truck to lower Defina, 43, who is trained for such rescues. During that time, Chandler remained alert and was able to give yes-or-no answers to firefighters' questions, he said.

The shaft was illuminated, but falling dust and dirt made it difficult to see, he said. "You try to avoid the other thoughts that go through your mind, whether it's gonna cave in on you," the 23-year veteran said.

Chandler, wearing a short-sleeve shirt and sweat pants, was crouched at the bottom of the shaft. She was "scrunched" in a sitting position, and the bed frame was wedged between her legs

The cramped space left Defina with only a few inches of room to maneuver. His conversation with Chandler was all business.

"I asked, could you raise your arms for me, she said yes," Defina said.

Defina slipped a harness around the woman and firefighters hauled them up, with Chandler dangling below the firefighter. "She looked really relieved," he recalled.

Defina said he didn't consider himself a hero. "It's another day on the job, to be real honest with you. That's what the taxpayers pay us to do and that's what we train to do."

His fellow team members ribbed him about the publicity.

"They wanted me to buy 'em steak dinners afterward," he said.


Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for visiting the Daily Journal.

Please purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading. To continue, please log in, or sign up for a new account.

We offer one free story view per month. If you register for an account, you will get two additional story views. After those three total views, we ask that you support us with a subscription.

A subscription to our digital content is so much more than just access to our valuable content. It means you’re helping to support a local community institution that has, from its very start, supported the betterment of our society. Thank you very much!