A 65-year-old woman has survived falling into a 35-foot-deep well despite not knowing how to swim.
Mrs Denise Brooks, of Abbots Morton, Worcestershire, had just finished pumping water from her well to her duck pond and was hauling the pump back out of the well with her husband when the pump got stuck. She descended into the well to attempt to free it, as she had successfully done many times before.
"My husband put a piece of wood across the top of the well with the ladders that he’d tied together going down into the well," she told the Press Association.
"I went down the ladders right onto the bottom rung and the first piece of wood that I’d took in wouldn’t reach the pump, it was too low down, so I managed to go back up and Mike passed me the loppers which are about 10 feet long.
"So I then put my foot on the bottom rung of the ladder and my right foot on the wall of the well and was pushing and banging on the pump to try to release it and it was obvious I wasn’t going to do it, but as I went for my last go at trying to release it the loppers slipped off the pump, went round the back and slid down the wall with me following it.
"It happened so quick. One minute I remember seeing the wall of the well and the next minute I’m just plunging into the water. That was the most frightening part and it must only have been a few seconds.
"It was frightening being in the water, knowing you can’t swim, and thinking are you going to come back up again?
"It took me a couple of minutes of this frightened stage before I managed to wedge myself and thought that at least I’ve wedged myself and as long as I don’t get too cold I’ll be able to hang on in here."
Mrs Brooks managed to release a piece of rope from the pump and tied it around her body, a move which prevented her from sinking into the water.
Mr Brooks, aged 63, who had watched helplessly as his wife plummeted into the water, managed to stay calm. He called the fire brigade who arrived with police and ambulance staff.
They erected a frame over the well and winched Mrs Brooks to safety after she had spent 90 minutes in the water. She was suffering from mild hypothermia but fully recovered after warming up.
Mr Brooks said, "She’s not a panicky sort of person and I think that helped yesterday."
Jerry Penn-Ashman, senior ambulance officer at West Midlands Ambulance Service, said that the fact that she fell around 8 feet from the bottom of the ladder rather than 35 feet from the top of the well accounted for her lack of injuries.
He told the Press Association: "A remarkable escape actually. It’s actually really nice to leave the lady at home feeling relief that she was at home with her husband in a comfortable environment and not left alone, because obviously when she came out of the hole she wasn’t expecting to see 35 to 40 people standing at the top relieved to see her."