DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida woman who was reported missing on March 3 was rescued from a storm drain in Delray Beach on Tuesday, authorities said.
The woman, believed to be in her 40s, was found naked and trapped in a storm drain near the intersection of Atlantic Boulevard and Southwest 11th Avenue. Someone passing by heard her cries for help and called 911, officials said.
Firefighters responded and were able to remove the storm grate, lower down a ladder and lift the woman up to safety.
“She was unable to stand up,” Delray Beach Fire Rescue spokeswoman Dani Moschella told WPLG. “She didn’t have any clothes on. She was very dirty. She had some superficial wounds. Her knees were all scraped up.”
The woman told police that she went for a swim in a canal near her boyfriend’s house on March 3. While she was swimming, she came across a doorway near a shallow part of the canal. She entered the doorway and found a tunnel, which peaked her curiosity enough to enter. That tunnel lead to another tunnel and so on until she realized she was lost, she said.
The woman claimed she had been walking around the sewer system for about three weeks before finally seeing somewhere she could yell for help.
Police said the woman appeared “very lucid” during her conversation with detectives, and although police consider her rendition of events to be “unusual,” she did not meet the criteria for a Baker Act.
Police later learned that the woman has a history of mental illness and is a frequent user of illegal narcotics. She also reportedly admitted to doing odd things and making bad decisions when she is high on drugs.
“She was lucky,” Moschella said. “I don’t know how much longer she would have been okay down there. The idea that somebody might be down there for any length of time is disturbing. It’s dirty, dangerous, there’s snakes, rats, garbage, dirt and leaves, anything that’s on the street that washes into a sewer, and it smells terrible.”
Paramedics evaluated the woman before she was taken to Delray Medical Center. Her current condition was not disclosed.