Sinkhole Survivor

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 3:23pm

Ground swallows woman in her own backyard.

Carla Davis-Chapman never dreamed the earth beneath her feet would open up and swallow her, but that's exactly what happened when she walked out to pick fresh herbs from her garden on Monday.

A sinkhole opened up beneath her in her Plant City, Florida backyard.

Davis-Chapman was able to use her phone to call for help.

Plant City Police Officer William Osmanski was one of the first to arrive on the scene.

"I was thinking, 'There was no way in hell I was leaving this girl,' " Osmanski said. "I wasn't going to let go. Everything was away from my mind and body. I was concentrated on saving her life."

"I tried to help him get me out of the hole," Davis-Chapman said. "But I expended all my energy. You are in a cauldron of mud and clay. You aren't going anywhere. My lungs were submerged; I couldn't breathe."

The pair struggled to keep Davis-Chapman's awake and breathing for eight minutes before more help arrived.

"I was trying with all my strength to pull her out. I couldn't do it," said Osmanski, 60, who is 5 feet 10 inches tall and 225 pounds.

Arriving firefighters and another police officer were able to relieve Osmanski and pull Davis-Chapman from the hole.

The pair later reunited for a much cleaner, happier embrace.

"I have 22 years experience as a police officer," Osmanski said. "I think today was the reason I became a police officer. If I wasn't there at this particular time, she would have died. I was there for a reason."

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