Nashua woman and dog rescued after being trapped in sewer

NASHUA, N.H. — A Nashua woman and her dog were rescued from a manhole Thursday afternoon after becoming trapped in the sewer.

Neighbor Roberta Ingham was lying outside, taking a break from work, when she heard the woman’s screams.

“I’m laying on my chaise lounge, and I hear what I think is someone yelling, ‘help’, but also wonder if it’s an animal,” Ingham said. “I look around and, I said, ‘Something’s wrong.’ So I got up to make sure I wasn’t crazy.”

A next-door neighbor confirmed she’d heard the same thing. The two determined the screams were coming from underground and called for help.

“She was at the manhole, and the culvert is in the back of my house. So she must have been yelling down the pipe and we could hear her, but she couldn’t hear us,” Ingham said. “We called 911, and we’re trying to explain there's a woman underground.”

Deputy Chief Kevin Kerrigan of Nashua Fire Rescue said the dog had escaped from its owner and run into the unsecured culvert on the neighboring property. The dog’s owner had then followed it into the narrow underground pipe to rescue the animal before they became stuck about 150 feet into the pipe.

Firefighters and EMTs arrived on Timberline Drive shortly before 1 p.m., with engines, a ladder truck, a special hazards truck and an ambulance. Crews removed the manhole cover and dropped a ladder down, finding the injured woman holding onto her dog by a leash and the animal treading water below her.

The dog was lifted out first before a firefighter entered the culvert to help the woman climb out.

Residents of the quiet neighborhood stood by watching in disbelief.

“All of a sudden, I see a dog come out. I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, hold up. That's not supposed to happen. There's not supposed to be a dog in the sewer system,’” said 17-year-old Jason Lam, who lives across the street. “And then a couple seconds later, a lady comes out. And I was like, ‘Okay, there’s a dog and a lady coming out of the sewer system. That’s quite a story to see.’”

The woman suffered cuts to her head and was taken by ambulance to the hospital but is doing well, officials said. The dog was wet and anxious, barking after being lifted out, but also in good condition.

Ingham said she is grateful the weather was nice and she and her neighbor were outside to hear the woman’s screams.

“It’s a miracle that everyone’s fine,” Ingham said. “It was certainly a day.”