Ron Sparks was mowing his lawn when he found himself on what he described as a terrible theme park ride.
The 87-year-old Simi Valley man had tumbled down a 25-foot well after the ground opened up and collapsed in front of his home. He was stuck at the bottom in mud that firefighters said was like quicksand.
Two hours later, a Ventura County Fire Department rescue team pulled Sparks to safety. He suffered a fractured ankle and bruises, but was in good spirits.
"Well, I am home after a great adventure," Sparks said in a message of thanks recorded by his daughter. "It could've been so much worse. And, I thank all the wonderful friends who prayed for me. I'm sure I'll have a wonderful recovery."
The ordeal began after Sparks noticed a patch of sinking ground as he mowed the lawn. He tapped it with his foot and the ground gave way, daughter Merrilee Kaszacs said.
It seems no one was aware Sparks was in the well until about 30 minutes later when resident Robin Reyes, who heard screams for help after parking her car.
"I could not see him," Reyes said. "I could only hear his voice coming from the hole and he told me it was about 20 to 25 feet down."
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During the rescue, Sparks dug himself out of the thick mud with a shovel provided by rescuers.
"I said, 'Were you cold?'And, he said, 'No," Kaszacs said. "I said, 'Was it dark?' And, he said, 'I could see it was a beautiful day. I could see the sky.'"
Kaszacs said apparently no one in the family knew about the abandoned well. It was covered with a steel plate later Monday.