Victim survived hour and 15 minutes inside well, before further tragedy in Winlock

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 3:08 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The fire department in Winlock shared details of its weekend rescue of a woman from near the bottom of an approximately 50-foot deep well.

She was reportedly unhurt, but spent more than an hour with a foot hold that kept her in waist-deep water while responders carried out an extrication, according to Lewis County Fire District 15.

It’s not yet clear how it might be related but later the same evening, on Sunday, one of the woman’s brothers allegedly shot and killed a younger brother and then himself at the same property. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the two deaths; no names have been released.

Firefighters and deputies were called at 4:14 p.m. on Sunday to the 600 block of Tennessee Road north of Winlock, because the woman had been attempted to disinfect the well with chlorine when the floorboards broke loose and she fell into the well, according to authorities.

Responders found she was conscious and she told them she was not injured, according to Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Anderson. They learned she was initially completely submerged, but was able to swim to the water’s surface and find a foothold, Anderson stated in a press release.

The sheriff’s office described her as trapped by debris which had collapsed through the opening.

The hand dug well was inside a pump house and crews had to stabilize the area to prevent a pump, a pressure tank and more flooring from tumbling down on top of the woman, according to Anderson.

Rope rescue technicians from the Centralia area’s Riverside Fire Authority were summoned and a hole had to be cut in the roof of the structure to provide access for a rope and pulley system. Firefighters lowered a life vest and helmet down to the vicim for protection, according to Anderson.

She remained conscious and communicating throughout the operation, he said.

A rescue harness was lowered and the woman was finally hoisted to the surface at approximately 5:29 p.m., Anderson stated.

The sheriff’s office said yesterday morning the woman is 64 years old, but later indicated she is 63 years old.

Anderson said in his press release she was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital in stable condition, but didn’t know specifically for what reason.

The sheriff’s office has said that during the rescue operation, the woman’s 59-year-old brother was disruptive and arguing with his 56-year-old brother, so he was asked to leave.

Deputies were called back to the property at about 6:30 p.m., when witnesses said the 59-year-old man had returned with a handgun and shot his 56-year-old brother multiple times before turning the gun on himself. Rescue crews had all departed before that occurred, according to Chief Deputy Dusty Breen.

The Lewis County Coroner’s Office is expected to release the names of the two men once they have completed family notifications for both.

For background, read “Two dead after family dispute in Winlock” from Monday October 9, 2017, here

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