30 Oct 2017

Trapped for an hour: 'She's a very brave lady'

11:57 am on 30 October 2017

By Sam Gardner for SunLive

A woman has sustained minor injuries after falling down a private soak hole behind an Apartment Complex in Mount Maunganui.

Emergency Rescue and Fire NZ was called to Commerce Lane, near the Salisbury Crown Apartments, about 8.30am.

Emergency Rescue and Fire NZ at the scene.

Emergency Rescue and Fire NZ at the scene. Photo: Sam Gardner

A soak hole is an alternative drainage method for rainwater.

Tauranga City Council's Trevor Page says the incident occurred at a private storm water soak hole of a nearby commercial premise.

"What's happened here is that this woman saw the hole, went to look closer and then the ground just gave way beneath her.

"These soak holes are made up of an aerated-type concrete which consists of rings of concrete that allow water through it the water goes through it and bursts through. They cover that with a concrete lid, and they fill soil on top of that again.

"This is how we do a lot of soakage here in the Mount and in Papamoa because of the sand.

"That concrete lid is being used in an area where there is traffic going over it and over time this pressure has sunken the lid, pushed down and broken it.

"It's a reasonably common occurrence as private sinkholes tend to do that, it takes a vehicle usually to break them."

Mount Maunganui station officer Steve Wright said fire crews assisted the woman for more than one hour.

"When we were called we monitored the situation to make sure she was safe and we monitored the hole for gasses, which are unlikely because we knew it was storm water, however you can never be certain. Sewer manholes obviously pose much greater a risk.

"It's a collapsed lid, broken into chunks, so we very slowly cleared the material away from the top eventually managed to bring one piece out, put a little ladder down the hole and she climbed out.

"She was down there for probably an hour, so she's a very brave lady."

The woman was treated by ambulance at the scene and walked away with minor injuries.

This article first appeared on the SunLive.