Woman rescued after she's swallowed by sinkhole

11:22 AM, Mar 29, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Interview: Carla Chapman


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Plant City, Florida - A woman gardening in her backyard says the ground underneath her feet suddenly opened up Monday morning, swallowing her into the ground.

Carla Chapman of Plant City says the sinkhole in her backyard left her seven feet underground screaming for help. She says if it wasn't for her cell phone, she might be dead.

Photo Gallery: Woman falls into sinkhole

The 47-year-old says, while in the hole, she had a very limited signal and kept getting disconnected as she frantically tried calling her husband, next-door neighbor and police.

She finally dialed 9-1-1 and threw her phone up out of the hole, which allowed the call to go through.

Plant City Police dispatched 19-year veteran Officer William Osmanski to the home, who at first was unsure what he was responding to.

"I open the sliding glass door, I look to the left and sure enough I see her fingertips and her screaming at the top of her lungs," said Officer Osmanski, who immediately went to work trying to reach the woman and pull her out.

But Chapman was already buried under feet of heavy sand and clay and was starting to have trouble breathing.

"He grabbed me with these military Marine hands and tried with everything he had to pull me out, and I just wasn't budging. We were both sliding in," says Chapman.

"She wouldn't budge. I just kept my arms on her and tried to hold her and kept her calm as best I could," said Osmanski.

More than 10 minutes later, backup started to arrive, including firefighters from Plant City Fire Rescue. They, along with other officers, were able to pull Chapman up and out of the hole.

She was transported to Florida Baptist Hospital, along with Officer Osmanski, who was treated for exhaustion.

Chapman says if it wasn't for her cell phone and the emergency crews who pulled her out, she might not be alive today.

"I know I have some real angels around me. I really do."

This is the second time in the past year Chapman has fallen into a sinkhole in her backyard.  10 News interviewed Chapman after her first harrowing experience in May 2010.

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