Bill Burke, a logger from Washington state, went through a harrowing experience when he found himself trapped in a sinkhole for nearly 24 hours. Thanks to some clever thinking on his own part and the help of fellow logger Jimmy Stennett, Burke was ultimately rescued by emergency services.
Burke headed out to a wooded area near Montesano last week to work on a job and accidentally fell into a concealed, 16-foot deep sinkhole.
“Next thing I know, one foot went down and then both my feet went down,” he told Q13Fox. “And next thing I know, I’m up to my arms. And then all at once, all the sticks and everything that was holding me up broke, and down I went.”
After first spending hours trying to carve out some steps in the hole’s walls with his knife and building up a mound of dirt to climb out, Burke spent the rest of the cold night blowing on his whistle, an item experienced loggers make sure to carry while on the job.
"It was dark down there like you wouldn't believe," he said.
The next morning, Stennett, who had previously agreed to help his friend with the job and was set to head out to the location that day, received a call from Burke’s wife asking if he’d heard from her husband.
“I say no and she says, 'Well, he never called last night,'” Stennett said.
After driving out to the area and finding his friend’s car empty, Stennett called 911 and Burke’s wife to alert them about the situation.
While looking around some more, Stennett then spotted a clue his friend had thought of planting — his hardhat. Burke had thrown the hat to the surface near the hole.
“Over to my left I see his hard hat under some ferns and I reach down and picked it up,” Stennett said. “And when I picked it up I see a hole about this big on the other side and I look down and see movement and I said, Bill? And he looked up and said, 'Jimmy!'”
Burke had felt confident his friend would pull through. “I had a sneaking hunch that if anybody was going figure this out, if Jimmy made it down there, he’d be the one. Jimmy’s a hero to me. He’s a super hero and I’m here,” he said.
Speaking to Q13, Stennett went on to stress the importance of helping others out. “No, you don’t turn your back,” he said. “If somebody’s in distress, you try to help.”
And he’s right.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Flickr, Lucy Rickards