A babysitter watching the 10-year-old girl who fell into an open well Monday in Pasadena tried to keep the girl calm, calling her “baby” and “sweetheart” while on the phone with 911 operators.
“I’m right here baby,” the said, according to an edited version of the call released by county fire officials Tuesday. “You are being so brave baby.”
Anne Arundel County firefighters rescued the girl about 4:30 p.m., half an hour after she fell into the 30-foot deep well behind a home in the Green Haven neighborhood.
The girl fell into the well while playing in the backyard of her home in the 800 block of 207th Street, said Division Chief Keith Swindle, a department spokesman.
At 4 p.m. the department received a 911 call from the house.
“There’s a child in a well…” the babysitter said.
The child, who can be heard faintly in the background, expresses concern about something falling on her. The babysitter reassures her that she won’t let anything fall. She tells her a “strong gentleman” at the house is going to lower a ladder, and then she’ll lean in and hold it so the girl can climb out.
Firefighter Megan Stanton, the 911 dispatcher on the other end of the call, warns the woman not to do that, and said that help is on the way.
“I don’t want anyone going in there, they’re on their way,” the 911 dispatcher said. “Keep her calm, keep her talking.”
Swindle said the well was covered with deteriorated plywood, which collapsed while the girl was either standing or playing on it. The well opening is about 3 feet wide.
“The child was playing with a group of others, and they were just running around the yard,” Swindle said.
The babysitter tells Stanton in the 911 call that the child’s mother is not at the home, and she wants to call and tell her what happens.
When members of the department’s Technical Rescue and Confined Space Rescue teams arrived, they confirmed a child was in the well and set up equipment. The girl, whom Swindle declined to name, was alert and communicated with rescuers.
Firefighter Donna McGuire was lowered into the well and attached a harness to the girl. Then they were both lifted to the surface together.
McGuire, who was not available for comment, is based at Jones Station in Arnold, where the Technical Rescue team is based.
Swindle said the girl was flown by state police helicopter to Johns Hopkins Pediatric Emergency Room in Baltimore with injuries, including hypothermia, that were serious but not life-threatening.
This morning, a woman who answered the door at the home said the girl was fine and in good spirits. The woman identified herself as the property owner, but declined to provide her name.
“She was extremely brave. She didn’t even cry,” the woman said.
The girl fell almost the entire depth of the well, but landed in water that may have prevented more serious injuries, she said.
The girl’s mother wrote a letter to news source Anne Arundel 1st Alert to thank those who rescued her daughter.
She said her daughter was playing with the neighbor’s dog when she fell into the well, which was covered in snow. She was sent to John’s Hopkins, but is now in good health.
The mother wrote that she is looking for the names of those who assisted in the rescue, a woman who went into the well and a person who was injured during the rescue.
“My daughter wants to write thank you notes to them,” the mother said.
She added; “Thank you to the rescue team and all the subscribers posting prayers and good thoughts. We are so very thankful!”
Don Curtian, county deputy director of environmental health, said such wells were once common in Anne Arundel County, but as public water lines have spread and deeper wells were needed, they have become increasingly rare. They are most often found in south county.
Public water lines were extended to the Green Haven neighborhood in the 1960s. State property records show the house was built in the 1930s, but sold several times.
Curtian, who has not been to the house, said the description released by the fire department makes it appear the well was an old one that was not properly closed.
Under county and state law, property owners are responsible for sealing old wells when a house is connected to public water or a new well is completed.
Curtain said sealing a well involves removing the plumbing and pipes, then filling it with dirt and capping it with a 3-foot thick plug of cement 3 feet below the surface.
There is no penalty for improperly sealing a well.
“Basically you can contact a well-driller to give you an estimate,” Curtian said. “The deeper the well, the more the cost. We don’t hear that this is very expensive. The biggest cost is the fill and the concrete.”
Bob Mosier, county schools spokesman, said the school system has reached out to the family of the girl to offer assistance. The child is a student at High Point Elementary School in Pasadena.