A woman walking her dog at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center fell into a 20-foot sinkhole Saturday and had to be hoisted out on ropes by a special rescue team, authorities said.
Carol Wood, 52, of Glendale, had just stepped aside a bridle trail to make room for some passing horses when the earth collapsed beneath her and she dropped into a Department of Water and Power well, said Burbank Fire Marshal Darryl Forbes.
Witnesses said they heard her call out, “Help me, help me,” and that passersby tried to soothe the woman’s fears until authorities arrived.
“She was panicked. She was terrified there would be a cave-in,” said Jane Hays, a Los Angeles resident who was riding her horse nearby and stopped to help Wood as others called 911.
“When you looked into the hole, the only thing you could see was the top of her head. I told her to crawl up a little because (the hole) was slanted,” Hays said.
Burbank firefighters and paramedics responded to the scene along Riverside Drive, near the equestrian center’s main gate, and handed Wood goggles and a hard hat to wear as they prepared to pull her from the well, Forbes said.
Wood, who was conscious throughout the ordeal, was able to strap a harness onto herself as rescue workers laid a ladder attached to ropes and a pulley along the hole. Minutes later, they hoisted her out without incident.
Firefighters said Wood suffered no apparent injuries. She was taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, where she was reported in good condition.
Her dog, who did not fall in, ran away but was found nearby by friends, witnesses said.
Forbes said the cave-in may have been caused by water erosion underneath the soil, which left only a thin layer of earth between Wood and the well.
DWP officials said they were still investigating the cause of the sinkhole on Saturday and declined to speculate whether the recent rains may have been a contributing factor.
They said they expected to fill the hole by Monday and would keep it barricaded until then to prevent further mishaps.