NEW DETAILS: Woman rescued from empty water tank in Carter Co. says she was chasing loose dog


ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – UPDATE – The woman who fell into an empty water tank in Elizabethton on Sunday night claims she was chasing a dog that had gotten loose.

According to a report from the Elizabethton Police Department, officers responded to the former North American Rayon building on Cherokee Park Drive after hearing a woman had fallen into a pit.

Officers met with the woman’s boyfriend and his mother, and they told officers that the woman who had fallen 20 feet in the pit had been chasing a dog that had gotten loose.

The woman’s boyfriend said the three of them had been on a nearby walking trail when his mother’s dog had gotten loose. He told police his girlfriend chased after the dog.

Authorities spoke to the woman, who was transported to Sycamore Shoals Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

She told police she had been chasing the dog when she fell through the piece of wood into the empty water tank.

John Burleson with the Carter County Rescue Squad helped with the rescue effort. He showed News Channel 11 the site on Monday to point out the dangers of a restricted zone.

“You don’t know what was done here,” said John Burleson of the Carter County Rescue Squad. “What kind of chemicals were used, is there asbestos in the building, how steady is the walkways? You’ve got planks down here with nails in them, they are turned here upside down and everywhere else.”

According to the report, the woman told police she had not seen the “No Trespassing” signs.

Her boyfriend said he had entered the facility to try to find her but could not find any other way out other than the top of the pit.

Burleson said this is one of the first abandoned building rescues the rescue squad has done inside city limits. Sgt. Bill Thacker with the Carter County Rescue Squad said these types of rescues are challenging.

“Confined spaces, collapsed structures, abandoned places such as this, are very hard to get into number one,” said Thacker. “Number two, you have to clear a path to make access to the patient and get the patient out.” 

Burleson is thankful that the woman is alive.

“Blessed, very blessed,” he said, “it could have been a lot worse, it could have been a totally different outcome.”

Police chose not to issue citations to any of the people involved due to the circumstances, but they were advised to not be on the property.

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Elizabethton police tell News Channel 11 an injured woman who fell approximately 20 feet into a water tank has been successfully rescued Sunday night.

Lt. James Heaton with the Carter County Rescue Squad said she was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

We’re told at least two people were exploring in a restricted area at an industrial park off Cherokee Park Drive.

“This is a very dangerous area,” said Lt. Heaton. “We try to encourage everyone to stay out of these areas because of situations like this.”

Heaton said the woman who was injured is in her mid-30s and had been walking on wooden planks over an empty water tank. Some of the planks gave way and she fell 20 feet.

“The area they were in probably looked like it was pretty safe with thick wooden boards,” he said, “but it’s obvious they weren’t.”

The other person with her was not at the scene when Elizabethton Police and the Carter County Rescue Squad arrived on the scene.

Heaton said they received the call around 7 p.m. Sunday night. The rescue took approximately 30 minutes.

We’re told there are ‘no trespassing’ signs set up throughout the facility.


Crews are working to pull an injured woman from a water tank in Elizabethton at this hour, according to John Burleson with the Carter County Rescue Squad

Burleson said the rescue is happening at an old water treatment facility off Cherokee Park Drive.

This is a developing story and details are limited at this time. We have a crew headed to the scene. Stay with News Channel 11 for updates.

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