Woman says she was lost in sewer for weeks; police skeptical

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A South Florida woman was rescued from a sewer system three weeks after she was reported missing when a passerby heard her cries for help, officials said.

The 43-year-old woman, who has a history of mental illness and drug abuse, told Delray Beach officers she went swimming in a flood control canal near her boyfriend’s home March 3, the day she was reported missing, a police report released Wednesday said.

She was yelling for help as rush hour traffic passed by Tuesday morning, Moschella said. So far officials don’t know how long the woman, whose name hasn’t been released, was in the storm drain.

“The idea that somebody might be down there for any length of time is disturbing,” she said. “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.”

She was reported missing to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on March 3.

Moschella said the woman was too weak to stand up on her own. Fire rescue crews hoisted her from the 8-foot deep (2.4-meter) drain using a ladder and a harness.

The naked woman was covered in dirt, had leaves in her hair and scraped knees, Moschella said.

The entrance to the storm drain is too small for an adult to fit through, she said.

Delray Beach police do not suspect foul play, said spokesman Ted White.

“From the police department standpoint, we don’t believe there was any type of crime committed,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like she was taken against her will. It appears this was done by her own free will.”

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