Woman stuck between walls won't give details

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 7:16 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 8:20 PM

PORTLAND -- A woman trapped between two walls in downtown Portland and freed after a dramatic four-hour rescue declined to say how she came to be stuck, according to a report in the Oregonian.

Firefighters rescued Anita Mann Wednesday morning four hours after she somehow got wedged between walls eight inches apart at SW 12th and Columbia.

Mann was released a day after being hospitalized and provided a statement to the paper in which she apologized for creating the incident, but provided no further details.

"The events of the morning were awful and ridiculously frightening. I am extremely thankful for the outcome of the situation I found myself facing. I profusely apologize for the disturbance and damage this has created," she said in a statement provided to the newspaper.

Firefighter Lt. Rich Chatman, who played a key role in saving her, told KGW Friday "we pressed her several times on how she got there" and she refused every time.

Portland police said no crime was committed and the bureau will not be investigating the incident. Sgt. Pete Simpson suggested that the national humiliation was punishment enough.

Alcohol was not suspected to be involved, rescuers said. Tenants told KGW she did not live in either building.

The rescue drama began about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, when a woman was seen crawling along a second-story ledge.  Then she fell about 12 feet and became wedged between the Gretchen Kafoury Commons building and the outer wall of a parking garage.

It took nearly four hours to get her out, through an opening that firefighters managed to cut in the wall. 

When she finally got out, Mann hollered "Oh my God!" smiled and clutched her fists.  She was taken to Oregon Health and Science University where she was listed in fair condition.

Chatman, who spoke directly with Mann as she neared freedom, said she was cold "and she wanted to get out" but was otherwise in good spirits. "A real trooper," Chatman said. She was stuck dangling in a space only about eight inches wide.

"We just assured her that we were doing everything that we could to get her out and we were going to get her out as soon as possible," he said, "We weren’t going home without her."

Watch: Woman finally emerges from between walls

Photos: Woman stuck between walls for 4 hours

One witness who called 911 said she was yelling for help until firefighters arrived. She was also yelling before the fall.

The rescuers first tried to use ropes to get her out, then decided to cut through the wall of the parking garage to free her.

Mann was alert, agitated, but did not appear to be seriously injured. She was talking with rescue crews as they sawed through concrete blocks for several hours.

About 6:15 a.m., firefighters had managed to start removing sections of the wall. Her husband was also brought to the scene to help calm her. He gave her a kiss once her face was showing through the area broken out by rescuers.

Damon Simmons, with the Portland Fire Bureau, said the firefighters had been specially trained in urban earthquake rescues, including the use of saws to free victims.

An air bag was deployed in hopes of expanding the space between the walls. Soapy water was also applied, Simmons said. A propane heater and flexible pipe were also used to keep her warm.

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