Woman who fell down manhole stays calm in 911 call
76-year-old woman remains calm during 911 call
It took only 10 minutes and 49 seconds for authorities to locate a 76-year-old woman who fell into an uncovered manhole Monday morning, despite poor reception on the 911 call and the woman's inability to tell dispatchers her exact location.
Northwest Central Dispatch System released a recording of the 911 call from the woman's cellphone Wednesday, obtained by the Daily Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The call came in at 9:38 a.m. Monday.
In the recording, the woman sounds unsure of her surroundings and repeatedly says she can't understand how she fell 12 feet through the hole, which is in a parking lot behind Jewel-Osco in the Northwest Shopping Center, off Dundee and Hicks roads, in Palatine,
"I'm somewhere north on Hicks," the woman says. "I fell through a drain cover. There's like a wood thing over the manhole cover still in place so I don't know how the heck I got down here ... when I look up, there's just a little narrow opening, you know, where a person couldn't get through."
The woman, although sounding a bit dazed, nonetheless remains calm. She tells the dispatcher there is a flat wooden crate covering the manhole, and handholds that lead down the sides, but that she doesn't know if she can get up. She even lets out a little chuckle at her predicament.
"I think I scraped myself a little bit," she says. "I've been trying to grab a hold of the handhold."
The woman — whom authorities would not identify and whose name is not clear on the 911 call — says she walked north along Hicks Road past the Palatine firehouse, and was going to cut through behind the shopping center. It is unclear where she was headed as, at the moment, she can't recall her home address or destination. Dispatchers were able to pinpoint the location of the woman's cellphone through the signal.
The call abruptly cuts off shortly before 10 a.m., about the time police officers located the woman, said Pat Dollard, assistant director of technical services with Northwest Central Dispatch.
Paramedics went down the hole to treat the woman, then hooked her up to a harness and lifted her out, authorities said.
The woman suffered nonlife-threatening injuries and was taken to the emergency room of Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, where she was treated and released, said a hospital spokeswoman. The Palatine Public Works Department has since covered the manhole to prevent further accidents.
DiMucci Cos., the development group that owns the property at the southeast corner of Dundee and Hicks roads, had been notified of the missing cover on Friday but did not order a replacement until after the woman fell through, according to police.
"They were in the process of getting a new one," Palatine police Cmdr. Kurt Schroeder said.
A DiMucci spokesman could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
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