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updated: 2/15/2013 10:22 PM

Woman falls into sewer vault in Gurnee

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A woman had to be rescued from an underground sanitary sewer vault that she fell into Friday morning as she was walking down the street in Gurnee, authorities said.

But, officials said, she came out without as much as a scratch on her body -- or any sewage.

The woman, described to be in her late 40s or early 50s, was walking down the sidewalk at 7:27 a.m. on the 3400 block of Grand Avenue when she moved to avoid a pile of snow on the unshoveled path, then stepped onto an unsecured lid for the privately owned sanitary vault, according to Lt. Andy Wienckowski of the Gurnee Fire Department.

She initially was able to catch the corners of the vault with her arms, but when she couldn't hold on anymore, she fell the rest of the way -- about 8 feet down, Wienckowski said.

He said there's two parts to the vault -- and the section the woman was in didn't contain any sewage.

The woman called 911 on her cellphone, and authorities were able to locate her quickly. Rescue crews lowered a ladder to the woman, and she was able to climb out on her own, Wienckowski said.

The opening for vault is about 4 feet wide and is located some 15 feet from Grand Avenue on the north side of the street. It connects with the North Shore Sanitary District system.

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