92-year-old Fremont man rescued after falling 26 feet into well

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Fremont firefighters rescued a 92-year-old man from a well this morning. The man fell and landed about 25 feet below ground. (KGO-TV)

The Fremont Fire Department made a rare rescue Saturday. A 92-year-old man who'd fallen 26 feet into a brick lined well with water in the bottom.

"I've been with Fremont Fire for 24 years and this is my first bona-fide well rescue," said Battalion Chief Gary Ashley.

The chief's 24 years is a drop in the bucket considering the well itself is more than 100 years old and the man trapped inside, a spry 92-years-old.

Ernest Silva tells ABC7's Katie Utehs the floor gave way as he checked the well pump. He dropped some 26 feet to the water below, which he estimates was at least eight feet deep.

The 911 call came in at 10:24 a.m.

"I was impressed with his physical strength and his stamina to stay above water and to tread water for that long," said Ashley.

Driscoll Road is a busy street and there are homes surrounding Silva's one-acre plot, but the pump house is behind the garden, set back off the property line, so it's unlikely that anybody would have heard him calling for help.

"Luckily somebody was home and sharp enough to recognize that they hadn't heard from him," said Ashley. Silva's daughter made the 911 call after discovering him in the well.

Firefighters say Silva was likely in the cold water for half an hour before she found him. Once on scene a rescuer dropped in with a life jacket. The technical rescue team then decided to cut the roof off the pump house in order to lower a rope from the ladder truck. It took about an hour. Then six firefighters hoisted Silva to safety, pulling by hand.

"We used man power to do it because you want to do it nice and slow to get him out in a vertical position," explained Ashley.

Silva suffered a cut to his head and hypothermia, but is already home from the hospital. He says the well waters his garden vegetables he eats and shares. Maybe it's the secret to strength and stamina at 92.
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