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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Carlisle woman trapped down manhole tells of ordeal

A woman has described how she spent almost an hour and a half trapped down a manhole after a freak fall.

Sharmara Walker photo
Sharmara Walker

Sharmara Walker, 32, fell down the hole, which she described as vile, while walking her boyfriend’s two Jack Russell dogs.

The uncovered manhole, was concealed in grass in a field north of Warwick Road, Carlisle, opposite the end of Victoria Road. The field is a popular destination for dog walkers and Sharmara had walked there often before.

Despite sustaining a shoulder injury, Sharmara’s first thought was for the dogs, Minnie and Enzo, so she called her mum to come and find them.

She said: “After I put the phone down I tried to move to get out, but it was crumbling in around me. It was disgusting. I don’t want to go into what was down there. It was awful – horrible.”

At first Sharmara, of Caldewgate, Carlisle, was reluctant to call the emergency services.

But after 20 minutes of trying she realised there was no way she would be able to escape and called the fire brigade to rescue her.

Firefighters were able to find her because Minnie was standing by the manhole.

While Sharmara was being rescued from the hole, a woman walking her dogs came over and offered to take the Jack Russells back to her boyfriend’s house. Sharmara is keen to find and thank this woman, who looked after the dogs.

“I don’t know this lady from Adam but I just want to give her a bunch of flowers to say thank you,” she said.

The health care assistant who works at the Cumberland Infirmary also praised the firefighters who came to her aid. Although they considered lowering a back brace for her, in the end a firefighter went down into the manhole with her and lifted her up.

In total she spent an hour and a half down the manhole. She said of the experience: “I’m just glad it was me and not a pensioner or a child because it could have been devastating.”

The fall, last Thursday, has been flagged up with Cumbria County Council and water supplier United Utilities.

A council spokesman said: “The fire crew then secured the manhole so that it was safe and informed the highways department who then barricaded it.

“United Utilities were informed of the issue and will be making repairs and further securing the manhole.”

A statement from United Utilities said: "We’re sorry to hear about this. We made the area safe as soon as it was reported to us, which was yesterday.

"Although it isn’t on the route of a public footpath, or on public land, we are going to carry out some work to permanently repair the manhole." 

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