Rescue workers peer into the hole that Linda Sharp fell into while walking her dog, Bouncer.
updated 1/19/2004 11:32:01 AM ET 2004-01-19T16:32:01

A quick constitutional for a cocker spaniel turned into a frightening ordeal for a 57-year-old Florida woman who was "swallowed" by a 10-foot-deep hole in the ground.

Linda Sharp was taking "Bouncer" for a walk on Sunday afternoon when she tumbled into the hole in the backyard of her daughter’s home in Apopka, Fla., landing on her back on the flat, sandy bottom, the Orlando Sentinel reported in Monday’s editions.

Neighbors who saw the dog run by trailing his leash soon heard distant calls for help, though they couldn’t figure out where the noise was coming from.

A search eventually revealed the hole, about the size of a manhole at ground level but wider underneath, and the frightened Sharp.

“She was scared, she was crying a little” 12-year-old Pierson Monetti, who first crawled to the edge of the hole and peered in, told the Sentinel.

“But after a while she started laughing,” added his friend Nathan Lundberg, 13. “She said, ‘The ground swallowed me up.’”

It took firefighters who responded to the emergency call several hours to rig a pulley system to haul Sharp out of the hole.

Complaining of back pain, she was taken to a local hospital and held overnight.

Lt. Winston Russell of the Orange County Fire-Rescue said the void appeared to have been created by the slow disappearance of a rotted tree stump, as opposed to being one of the yawning “sinkholes” that have plagued many Florida communities.

“They might want to get a geologist to check it out, but I’m 99 percent sure,” he told the newspaper. “I’ve never seen a flat-bottomed sinkhole.”

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